Ratings Roundup: USA-Algeria Sets ESPN Soccer Ratings Record

The 2010 FIFA World Cup continues to connect with U.S. viewers as Wednesday morning’s U.S.A.-Algeria match on ESPN – in which the Americans scored a dramatic goal in stoppage time to earn a 1-0 win and a spot in the Round of 16 – makrs the highest-rated and most-watched soccer game in the history of ESPN networks, delivering a 4.6 rating (4.0 household U.S. rating), 4,582,000 households and 6,161,000 viewers for the two-hour contest (10 a.m. ET – noon).

The previous households record was set five days earlier with the U.S.-Slovenia match (June 18) – 3,906,000.  Excluding holidays, ESPN’s coverage of the U.S.-Algeria game ranks as the most-watched weekday morning telecast ever for ESPN, surpassing the U.S.-Germany World Cup match from eight years ago (June 21, 2002) – 4.4 rating and 5,335,000 viewers.  The game ranked as the highest-rated program of the day on any network among M18-34 and M18-49.

Through Wednesday, June 23 (40 games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2), the 2010 World Cup is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating (for the two-hour match window) — up 40% from 2006 (1.3).  Household impressions are up 46% (from 1,389,000 to 2,025,000) and P2+ impressions are up 49% (from 1,789,000 to 2,658,000).

The match also posted the largest U.S. audience ever for a sports event on the web.  It attracted nearly 1.1 million unique viewers with an average time spent viewing of 43 minutes. The match also averaged 328,000 viewers per minute in its live coverage.  When combined with the concurrent England vs. Slovenia match, ESPN3.com reached its peak point of viewing at around 11:30 a.m. ET when 513,000 viewers were watching each minute. Through 14 days of World Cup coverage (June 10-23), five million viewers have watched the World Cup on ESPN3.com and consumed more than 9.2 million total hours.

While the NBA Finals set a 12 year-high in ratings, the overall NBA Playoffs were slightly up from last year. The seven-game NBA Finals more than made up for several sweeps in the second round and consistent declines in the Conference Finals.

The 2010 NBA Playoffs averaged a 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.7 million viewers across ABC, ESPN/ESPN2 and TNT, up 3% in ratings and 5% in viewership from last year (3.5, 5.4 mil), and up 9% and 16%, respectively, from 2008 (3.3, 4.9 mil).

For the second straight week, NASCAR on TNT failed to attract even 3% of U.S. television households last Sunday. The NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 drew a 2.7 U.S. rating (3.099 million HHs) and 4.479 million viewers on TNT, down 21% in ratings and 23% in viewership from last year (3.4, 5.788 mil), and down 27% and 26%, respectively, from 2008 (3.7, 6.015 mil).

This marks the lowest rated, least-viewed edition of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 since at least 1999, when ratings and viewership became available. Additionally, this is the fifth straight year that ratings and viewership have declined for the race.

This is the second straight week that NASCAR on TNT has failed to draw a 3.0 rating. Only once in the previous three seasons had a regularly scheduled NASCAR race drawn less than a 3.0 rating. Overall, ten of the fourteen regularly scheduled NASCAR races on FOX and TNT this season have had declines in ratings compared to last year.

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