World Cup: ESPN, Univision Netting Double-Digit Gains

As the 2014 World Cup progresses into its second week, U.S. rights-holders ESPN and Univision are ringing up strong deliveries in their last go-rounds with FIFA’s famed tourney.

Through the first 23 matches, both programmers have recorded double-digit gains, with ESPN/ESPN/ABC’ coverage averaging a 2.3 household rating and 3.72 million watchers, according to Nielsen data. Those mark respective advances of 21% and 26% from the corresponding stage of the 2010 event in South Africa.

Meantime, the simulcasts of the same number of matches on Univision and Univision Deportes Network have produced 3.5 million watchers on average, 42% more than in 2010. Nielsen data also indicates a 37% rise to 1.8 million 18-to-49 watchers.

The ESPN trio has combined to reach 65 million viewers through 17 matches, 16% amelioration from that point in the South African tourney in 2010. The combined reach of Univision/UDN was 42 million through 20 matches, a 37% jump.

The performances to date include the 11.1 million viewers ESPN recorded for the U.S.-Ghana match on June 16, which represents the network’s high-water mark for a men’s soccer game. The same match on Univision/UDN pulled in some 4.8 million watchers, a record for a U.S. men’s national team game. With a large percentage of its audience composed of Mexican-Americans, Univision has also scored with a pair of El Tri matches, including the 6.8 million who saw the team battle to a scoreless draw versus host Brazil on June 18.

ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. match versus Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal on Sunday, June 22 at 6 p.m. (ET) figures to draw a huge audience, while Univision/UDN will benefit from the Mexico-Croatia contest on June 23 at 4 p.m. (ET), in a match that will determine whether El Tri advances from Group A.