France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia in the World Cup Final was as sweet as a dessert crepe, though the match didn’t exactly net Fox’s TV ratings goal in the states.
Fox drew 11.3 million TV viewers for its coverage of Sunday’s final, which was down 20 percent from the 14.1 million that watched ABC’s coverage in 2014 of Germany’s 1-0 win over Argentina. Those numbers include the pre- and post-match coverage, which can deflate the overall viewership.
On Sunday, Fox Sports brought in another 500,000 viewers via streaming, on average.
Four years ago, ABC pulled in 17.3 million during just the match time frame. Fox did not provide comparable figures.
An additional 9.2 million watched on Univision in 2014, bringing the total to 26.5 million viewers in America. Telemundo, who took over Spanish-language rights from Univision, drew 5.3 million viewers for its broadcast of the match, and 5.45 million when streaming was added. Though that was down 42 percent from 2014, this year’s final did not feature a Spanish-speaking country.
Though 11.3 million viewers is still a nice broadcast television audience haul in general — especially on a Sunday morning — none of this tournament went as well as the network would have hoped when Fox shelled out $425 million for the World Cup rights, outbidding incumbent ESPN.
Leading up to Sunday’s game, Fox had been trending nearly 40 percent lower than 2014’s average viewership, so the final closed the gap a bit.
Fox was already facing a tall order to come anywhere close to the record soccer TV ratings that ESPN and ABC pulled in four years ago from Brazil. Brazil was just one hour ahead of the U.S. east coast, which meant most of those matches aired around primetime, whereas Russia was seven hours ahead. And when the United States failed to qualify for the tournament, it made things even worse.
The next World Cup in 2022 will be held from Middle East country Qatar, and moved to the winter to avoid the unbearably hot summer temperatures in the Gulf. But Fox did have one major celebration and it came before the tournament even started. The 2026 tournament, the last under Fox’s TV rights deal with FIFA, will be held in North America, with most of the matches emanating from the U.S.
All of this could have been worse, of course: Fox executives could be getting treated like members of Pussy Riot right now.