And Now Back to Marketing Stuff…World Cup Ratings Soar

Well the U.S. World Cup team is out.  Sad day last Saturday.  

But thankfully, a combination of high drama, strong ESPN/ABC coverage and a Saturday afternoon match provides a nice segue from soccer stories back into the world of marketing.

According to

The 2010 NBA Playoffs averaged a 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.7 million viewers across ABC, ESPN/ESPN2 and TNT, up 3% in ratings and 5% in viewership from last year (3.5, 5.4 mil), and up 9% and 16%, respectively, from 2008 (3.3, 4.9 mil).  A seven-game NBA Finals more than made up for several sweeps in the second round and consistent declines in the Conference Finals.  

Given those numbers, I was interested to find out how many more people would watch the NBA playoffs than a World Cup soccer game.  Well, according to ESPN:

Saturday’s game, which began at 2:30 p.m. EDT on ABC, received an 8.2 fast national rating, ESPN said Sunday. It was seen in 9,455,000 households and by 14,863,000 viewers. Only the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, featuring the United States and China at the Rose Bowl, averaged more households (11,307,000) and viewers (17,975,000) for a soccer game. An additional 4.5 million people watched Sunday on the Spanish-language Univision.

Wow.  To put those numbers side by side:

  • US vs Ghana Soccer Game: 8.2 rating, 14.9 Million viewers (ABC), 19.4 Million viewers total (ABC+Univision).
  • NBA Playoff average: 3.6 rating, 5.7 Million viewers

Now I know it’s not a fair comparison, since the NBA playoffs also included cities like Oklahoma City where only 3,500 of the 10,000 people with electricity actually know how to work their remote control.  So to be fair, here’s data from the most watched basketball games of the year:

  • Game 7, NBA Finals: 15.6 rating, 28.2 Million viewers
  • Game 6, NBA Finals: 10.4 rating, 18.0 Million viewers.
  • Game 5, NBA Finals: 10.8 rating, 18.7 Million viewers.
  • Game 4, NBA Finals: 9.9 rating, 16.4 Million viewers.
  • Game 3, NBA Finals: 9.6 rating, 16.0 Million viewers.
  • Game 2, NBA Finals: 9.2 rating, 15.7 Million viewers.
  • Game 1, NBA Finals: 8.6 rating, 14.1 Million viewers.

So the U.S. vs Ghana game comes in just under Game 1 of the NBA finals.  I expect that’s much more than ABC expected.


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