The World Cup quarterfinals attracted strong numbers over the holiday weekend.
The Brazil/Colombia FIFA World Cup quarterfinal earned a combined 11.8 million viewers on ESPN and Univision Friday afternoon, the top audience of the round. ESPN alone earned a 3.6 U.S. rating and 6.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast-nationals, making the match the most-watched World Cup quarterfinal ever on a single U.S. network. Univision finished not far behind with 5.5 million for its coverage.
On Saturday, the Netherlands/Costa Rica match drew a similarly strong 10.9 million across the two networks, including a 3.4 U.S. rating and 5.8 million viewers on ESPN — the second-largest audience for a quarterfinal on a single network. Again, Univision was close behind with 5.1 million.
Prior to this year, the top mark for a single quarterfinal telecast was 5.7 million for Argentina/Germany on ABC in 2010.
Shifting to the morning matches, Friday’s Germany/France match drew 9.6 million across ESPN2 (4.9M) and Univision (4.7M). The ESPN2 audience was the largest in the history of the network, topping the previous high of 4.6 million for an Athletics/Red Sox MLB playoff game in 2003. Saturday’s Argentina/Belgium match brought up the rear with 8.8 million on ABC (5.2M) and Univision (3.6M).
Through the quarterfinals, the 2014 World Cup has averaged 7.4 million viewers across the ESPN and Univision networks. The ESPN networks have averaged a 2.6 U.S. rating and 4.2 million viewers, up 37% in ratings and 42% in viewership from 2010 (1.9, 2.9M) and up 86% and 114%, respectively, from 2006 (1.4, 2.0M). The Univision networks, which were up 40% in viewership through Friday’s matches, have averaged 3.3 million.