Despite a late night timeslot, the United States/Mexico World Cup qualifier was a big television draw Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s USA/Mexico World Cup qualifying match drew a combined 7.0 million viewers on ESPN and UniMás, setting viewership records on both networks.
In particular, ESPN’s telecast of the match earned a 1.4 U.S. rating and 2.4 million viewers, ranking as the highest rated and most-viewed World Cup qualifier or international friendly ever on the family of networks — doubling the previous record set by USA/Mexico in 2009 (0.7, 1.2M).
The ESPN telecast alone beat a competing NBA game on TNT by 47%.
As is typical, the Spanish-language telecast earned a much larger audience. UniMás earned 4.8 million viewers for its telecast, the largest audience ever on the network (formerly Telefutura). The previous high was 3.5 million for a Mexico/Guadeloupe Gold Cup match in 2007.
For some perspective, only two NBA games this season (Knicks/Lakers and Thunder/Heat on ABC Christmas Day) drew more viewers than Tuesday’s match. No NHL game, regular season or playoffs, has drawn as large an audience since Game 7 of the Bruins/Canucks final in 2011 (8.5M). Even Tiger Woods‘ most recent Sunday victory, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, fell well short of Tuesday’s audience (5.5M).
Overall, USA/Mexico ranks as the most-viewed soccer telecast in the U.S. since the USA/Japan Women’s World Cup final on ESPN in 2011 (13.5M).