The 2018 World Cup has seen a persistent toppling of giants, the latest yesterday’s tumbling of 2010 champions Spain by host Russia and an ever-changing battle for the highest-rating game of the tournament.
Out of its first World Cup this early since 1954, Germany was handed a ticket home June 27 after South Korea decimated the 2014 champs 2-0. Then, June 30 saw a serious soccer bloodletting as 1998 World Cup winner France trampled Lionel Messi and Argentina 4-3, and 1930 and 1950 champ Uruguay beat 2016 UEFA European champ Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal 2-1.
However, for Fox, the harsh results have done wonders for the ratings.
Snaring 6.8 million viewers Saturday afternoon, Uruguay’s triumph over Portugal became the most watched match of the 2018 World Cup on Fox or Fox Sports 1. It is also the most watched English-language men’s soccer game in America since the 2014 World Cup final pulled in a whopping 17.32 million for Germany’s extra time 1-0 win over Argentina four years ago on ABC. Overall, the June 30 trouncing of Ronaldo and crew was the most viewed English-language soccer game in the U.S. since the 25.4 million that saw Team USA beat Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
With a metered market rating of 4.4/12, the Uruguay-Portugal match jumped ahead 5% in the early metrics from the June 23 battle between previous titleholders Germany and Sweden to become the highest-rated game of this World Cup at the time.
Some of those new heights had to come off the solid results of Saturday’s earlier game, when Les Bleus outscored a shellshocked Messi and teammates. That early-morning France-Argentina game game delivered a 3.9/12 in metered market ratings and 5.2 million total viewers for the Rupert Murdoch-owned network. Or, to put it another way, France’s vanquishing of Argentina is the third most watched World Cup game so far behind Uruguay-Portugal and Germany-Sweden’s 5.4 million sets of soccer-crazed eyeballs.
We hope to see some viewership figures from Telemundo later today as the NBCUniversal-owned network is playing Spanish-language broadcasts of the 2018 World Cup.
Notwithstanding a questionable hand-ball call by referee Bjorn Kuipers against Spain’s Gerard Pique that allowed Russia an opportunity to get a goal and tie the game, the low-ranked host nation scored another win in penalty kicks after a scoreless overtime. Conspiracy theorists or hard realists aside about whether Vladimir Putin made a call or two to ensure that favorable call, the fact is Sunday’s win by Russia over the past World Cup victors brought in a strong 4.4/12 in metered market results in what has been a tournament defying expectations on many levels.
That Sunday result would seemingly put Russia-Spain in the top spot for World Cup 2018 ratingswise with Saturday’s Uruguay-Portugal match – but actually they are tied for No. 2.
Hitting a new World Cup 2018 ratings game high for Fox with a 4.8/11, Croatia’s victory over Denmark is now No. 1. Though you can be sure this morning’s Mexico-Brazil game will put up a fight of its own in the numbers.
As it is, once again, Washington D.C. was the top local market for the new top game with a huge rating of 8.2/19.
Facing Columbia on Tuesday, it remains to be seen whether England can push through. Yet, pushing on through, defying expectations, Russian results, more miracles or just sheer effort will result in two teams reaching the July 15 final, and there will be only World Cup winner. Who that is at this Round of 16 stage ramains a wild card.