The U.S. National Women’s Soccer team handily bested Japan 5-2 in the finals of the World Cup last night, but that wasn’t the only victory of note. The viewership ratings for the broadcast have started to come in, and they show the highest ratings for a soccer game of any kind in the country ever.
As Fox explains, the rating of a 15.2 share, is “the highest metered market rating ever for a soccer game in the U.S. on a single network, surpassing the previous mark set for the Women’s World Cup final between the USA and China in 1999 on ABC (13.3 mm rating).
And per NPR:
While some 17 million American viewers tuned in to the 7 p.m. ET start of Sunday’s game, that number quickly grew to 21.86 million an hour later — and reached 22.86 million at 8:30 p.m. ET, according to preliminary data from industry website TV Media Insights.
Those figures are comparable to the 2014 World Series’ Game 7, which attracted 23.5 million viewers — far more than any other game of the 2014 series.
While the numbers are in fact impressive, and a nice kick in the shins to those who’ve spent much of the tournament criticizing women’s soccer, and women’s sports in general, it’s probably not the watershed moment for the sport that it seems.
As USA Today’s For the Win site points out:
The early overnights give the game a 15.2 rating, which was the same for Game 7 of the World Series and very near the numbers for the two college football playoff games on New Year’s Day. It was also higher than the viewership for the epic 1999 Brandi Chastain World Cup game and the total viewership could hit 20 million by the timeall the numbers are tallied, which is what the NBA Finals averaged last month, in a post-Michael Jordan-era record.
This number has been, and will continue to be, misrepresented in the media as a grand sign that women’s soccer, and soccer in general, is a big-time sport in the country. If it does better than America’s past time, how can it not? But here are a few other numbers for you: 30.4 million, 24.4 million, 31.1 million, 21.4 million. Those are the average viewership numbers for the last four Olympics (2008 Beijing, 2010 Vancouver, 2012 London, 2014 Sochi), the latter two of which featured every major primetime telecast showing recorded sports.
Still, it’s a couple of impressive feats, both the game itself, and the turnout to celebrate it.