Fifty-two years after England last won the World Cup, the Three Lions’ dream of playing in the final of the 2018 FIFA tournament came to an end yesterday with a 2-1 semifinal loss to Croatia in extra time. As close as it felt that football really could be coming, to paraphrase the 1996 tune that became the unofficial anthem of the England effort, Fox scored with the afternoon match.
Snaring 5.5 million viewers and a 4.5/13 rating in the metered markets, the semifinal match is the fourth most watched for the Rupert Murdoch owned network for this World Cup. Telling of how audiences consume media, especially live sports and especially on a work day, the game was the most streamed World Cup semifinal ever – period.
In the early metrics, the weekday game that launched Croatia to their very first World Cup final was the third highest rated of the tournament. Croatia’s weekend victories over Russia on July 7 and Denmark on July 1 were the highest and second highest rated in metered markets. Those games drew a 5.0 and a 4.6 MM rating respectively.
Yesterday’s tense England v. Croatia game peaked in the final minutes of the 1:15 – 1:30 PM PT time period with 7.5 million sets of eyeballs glued to the screen – and of course that doesn’t count all the people watching in offices, bars and other fine establishments together.
It’s no secret to say that without a Team USA participating Fox and Fox Sports 1 have lacked some of the viewership traction of the 2014 World Cup. However, not so much with yesterday’s march, which was almost even with the American audience of the comparable Netherlands vs. Argentina semifinal of four years ago on ESPN.
On streaming, the England v. Croatia game, which I’m still nursing emotional wounds over, had average minute audience of 830,000 for the actual match itself. That inches up 5% over the 789,000 average minute audience of that Argentina winning semifinal against the Netherlands in 2014. It also tops the previous Fox/FS1 best authenticated event record holder of the France v. Belgium semifinal of July 10 by a not insignificant 26%.
Speaking of that other World Cup 2018 semifinal, the 1-0 game that saw Les Bleus advance to what could be their second championship had a 3.6/11 in metered markets and 5.01 million viewers.
If past World Cups are any blueprint and weekend games provide any guidance, expect a lot more to be watching Sunday’s final.