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World Cup: ESPN, Univision Set Semi Mark: 12.4M Viewers

If any doubt remained about the ascendancy of World Cup audiences, ESPN and Univision combined to average 12.4 million viewers for their coverage of Germany’s semifinal blitzkrieg of Brazil in the tourney’s first semifinal Tuesday afternoon.

Both U.S. rights-holders netted semifinal viewing records for Die Mannschaft's 7-1 drubbing of the host nation. ESPN averaged a 4.2 household rating and 6.64 million watchers, making it the highest-rated and most-viewed World Cup semifinal on any U.S. network, according to Nielsen data.

Univision and Univision Deportes Network’s simulcast delivered its most-viewed World Cup semifinal match ever, averaging 5.8 million viewers, half of whom were persons 18 to 49.

Amazingly, Univision reported that viewership increased in every half hour – the Germans embarrassed Brazil with a five-goal flurry from the 11th to the 28th minute  – kicking off at 4 p.m. (ET) with 4.9 million watchers and peaking with 6.7 million in the final hour.

Similarly, ESPN’s television coverage peaked in the final half hour of the match (5:30–6 p.m.) with a 4.6 rating and 7.5 million viewers.

Brazil, playing without Neymar, its best player and the tournament’s face and captain Thiago Silva, had not lost a competitive home game since 1975, a span encompassing 63 matches.

The previous best World Cup semifinal mark was ESPN’s 3.4 rating and 5.85 million million watchers for Germany-Italy during World Cup 2006 in Germany. Tuesday’s rout also represented increases of 56% from the 2.7 rating and 58% from the 4.2 million watchers over the comparable Uruguay-Netherlands semifinal four years ago from South Africa.

Excluding U.S. team matches, Brazil-Germany is the highest-rated World Cup match ever on ESPN/ESPN2, surpassing the 4.0 rating and 6.57 million viewers for Mexico-The Netherlands during their  Round of 16 encounter on June 29.

For the Spanish-language telecaster, the match bested the previous semifinal high set on July 7, 2010 for Germany-Spain by 37% among total viewers and 24% among adults 18 to 49, according to Univision officials.