The 2010 FIFA World Cup concluded with the largest audience ever for a Men’s World Cup match on a single network.
Spain’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands drew an 8.1 rating and 15.545 million viewers on ABC Sunday afternoon, according to Nielsen fast-nationals, making the match the most-viewed Men’s World Cup telecast ever on one network.
The previous record was held by Ghana/USA on June 26 (15.193 mil).
Sunday’s match also ranks as the fourth-highest rated World Cup telecast on one network, trailing Brazil/Italy in ’94 (9.5), Brazil/USA in ’94 (9.3) and Ghana/USA this year (8.5).
The most-viewed World Cup match (regardless of gender) on a single network remains the 1999 USA/China Women’s World Cup final (11.4, 17.975 mil).
Excluding the NFL and primetime Olympic telecasts, Sunday’s match ranks as the 14th-most viewed sporting event of the year on a single network.
Including the Univision telecast, which drew 8.821 million viewers, the Spain/Netherlands final drew a combined audience of approximately 24.3 million viewers — the largest audience ever for a World Cup match in the United States.
Spain/Netherlands tops the previous high of 19.4 million for USA/Ghana on ABC/Univision.
The 24.3 million viewers marks the fourth-largest audience for any sporting event in 2010 (excludes NFL and primetime Olympic telecasts). Only the USA/Canada Olympic Hockey Gold Medal Game (27.600 mil), Game 7 of the Celtics/Lakers NBA Finals (28.203 mil) and the BCS National Championship Game (30.776 mil) drew more viewers.
The combined audience drew more viewers than every single Major League Baseball game since 2004 and every single college basketball game since 1999.
Keep in mind that most sporting events in the U.S. air on only one network.
San Francisco led all markets for Sunday’s ABC telecast, with a 14.7 rating. That includes pre-match coverage. San Diego (13.6), New York (13.1), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (12.0) and Washington, D.C. (11.9) round out the top five.