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Networks Score With World Cup

Brazil defeated Germany 2-0 on June 30 to capture its fifth FIFA World Cup — the month-long soccer tourney that generated strong ratings for the networks that carried it, despite early-morning kickoffs.

ESPN averaged a 1.11 household rating, good for 963,193 TV homes, over 24 matches, according to Nielsen Media Research data. ESPN's strong ratings were fueled by the U.S.-Germany quarterfinal on June 21, which netted a 4.36 household rating average from 7:20 a.m. to 9:33 a.m., translating into some 3.77 million household impressions, per Nielsen.

Those numbers made USA-Germany ESPN's highest-rated and most-viewed soccer game ever, according to the network. It was also ESPN's most-viewed program in the second quarter.

Sister network ESPN2 grabbed a 0.58 rating (489,690 TV homes) for 34 matches during World Cup 2002, which was held in Korea and Japan.The ESPN networks' performances surpassed those of their counterparts from World Cup 1998, held in the more time-zone-friendly France, when most of the matches aired between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Four years ago, ESPN averaged a 0.94 rating (691,329 TV homes) for 27 matches, while ESPN2 scored a 0.56 rating (322,911 TV homes). An ESPN spokesman pointed out that results from France 1998 were skewed by the fact that the U.S. team's matches aired on ABC.

The Alphabet Network notched a 3.9 overnight rating for its coverage of the Brazil-Germany final, which started at 6:30 a.m. (ET), while a 1:30 p.m. replay earned a 2.8. (ABC spokesman Mark Mandel said the final Nielsen ratings would not be available until this week.) This compared with a 6.9 rating for ABC's presentation of the 1998 championship match between France and Brazil.

"Given the early start and the fact that we didn't have 100 percent coverage, the World Cup final's performance was remarkable," said Mandel. Only 83 percent of ABC affiliates carried the match live, he noted.


For its part, Univision registered an 18.8 household rating for its coverage of the 2002 final, according to Nielsen. The match delivered some 2.88million viewers (excluding non-Hispanic watchers), good for a 66 share, the highest in the history of Spanish-language television in this nation, according to Univision officials. A replay of Brazil-Germany was watched by another 500,000 Hispanic viewers on sister network Telefutura at noon on June 30.

The June 17 U.S.-Mexico match earned Univision its highest sports ratings ever among men, women and adults 18 to 34 and adults 18 to 49.

Throughout the 2002 tourney, Univision averaged a 7.0 household rating and a 33 share. That translated into roughly 1 million Hispanic viewers per contest.

Univision officials said network coverage held a 5 percent edge over ESPN/ESPN2's average viewer delivery during World Cup 2002.