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World Cup: Brazil-Colombia Ranks As Top Quarter Ever

(Updated on July 6)

ESPN’s Fourth of July telecast of the Brazil-Colombia match drew ratings fireworks as it stands as the most-watched World Cup quarterfinals for any network in U.S. history.

Brazil’s 2-1 triumph over Colombia – a pyrrhic one as top player and tournament face Neymar suffered a fractured back vertebrate ending his FIFA competition – averaged a 3.6 rating and 6.35 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. ESPN’s July 5 coverage of Netherlands’ shootout win over Costa Rica drew 5.79 million viewers to rank as the second-most-watched quarterfinal match.

The viewership for both of those matches surpassed the previous high for a World Cup quarterfinal: 5.71 million viewers for ABC’s Argentina vs. Germany broadcast on July 3, 2010 from South Africa.

Germany’s win over France in the earlier game on Friday averaged 4.89 million viewers on ESPN2, while ABC’s early-day coverage of Argentina defeating Belgium on July 5 drew 5.18 million viewers.

Through the quarterfinal round  totaling 60 matches, the 2014 World Cup has averaged 4.19 million viewers, 42% greater than in 2010.

For their part, the Univision-Univision Deportes Network simulcast of the first day of quarterfinal matches also set new ratings records, averaging 5.1 million total viewers and 2.7 million persons 18 to 49 for Brazil-Colombia and Germany-France. The July 4 coverage topped the previous quarterfinal daily high set on July 3, 2010, showcasing Paraguay-Spain and Argentina-Germany, by 19% among viewers and 3% in the aforementioned demo.

Through 58 matches, Univision Deportes’ coverage of the 2014 World Cup is pacing ahead of its predecessor from South Africa by 40% among viewers and 27% among the group Madison Avenue values most. (Ratings results for the July 5 matches were not immediately available at press time.)