NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Who says Americans don’t love soccer?
The United States’ 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal is almost certainly the most-viewed soccer match ever in the United States.
The Nielsen company said Monday that the gripping game was seen by an average of 24.7 million viewers Sunday evening on ESPN and Univision. That matches it with the 24.7 million U.S. viewers who watched the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.
ESPN said an additional 490,000 people streamed coverage of the game on their mobile devices through the company’s app. Streaming numbers for 2010 weren’t immediately available, but it’s very unlikely it reached that level.
Many factors were in place to make it a big night for soccer on television. It was an exciting game, interest in the U.S. team was high because of the first-game victory against Ghana and World Cup viewing in general has been up.
With a Sunday evening time slot, the game was on at a time many Americans were available to watch.
ESPN said the 18.2 million people who watched on the sports network made it the most-watched non-football — that is, American football — event in the network’s history. The telecast hit a peak of nearly 23 million viewers between 7:30 and 8 p.m. EDT.
The 6.5 million people who watched on Univision represented the highest viewership for a match involving the United States ever on the Spanish-language network.
For many people with Latin-American roots used to following their home country’s matches on Univision, the United States has become their second-favorite team, said Juan Carlos Ramirez, president of Univision Sports.
ABC had just under 18 million viewers in 1999 for the women’s World Cup final between the United States and China, the previous best for an English-language network in the U.S. That game was not telecast on Univision.
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