World Cup Opener Ratings Down From 2014 As Time Zones Take A Toll On Fox


(UPDATED WITH VIEWERSHIP NUMBERS) The opening game of the 2018 World Cup was a winner for Vladimir Putin but not so much for Rupert Murdoch, at least when it comes to the ratings.

The Russian President got to strut his stuff on the global soccer stage yesterday and see his boys beat Saudi Arabia a hard 5-0 but the much-courted media mogul took a drubbing almost as hard as the oil rich kingdom. With a 1.6/6 in metered market rating, the early morning West Coast and mid-morning East Coast broadcast on Fox of the first match of the tournament on Thursday was down, way down from 2014.

With Moscow seven hours ahead of mega-American market of NYC, the first game of the 2018 World Cup faceplanted 50% in the early metrics from the first game of the 2014 World Cup. That June 12, 2014 match saw ESPN score a network World Cup record as then host nation Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 on that particular Thursday.

Having an afternoon kick-off in a time zone that is almost the same as the U.S. East Coast and with a well followed football powerhouse on the pitch, that 2014 World Cup ended up with 4.4 million viewers for ESPN. An additional 5.1 million watched the 2014 opening game on Univision, who was also airing the tournament four years ago.

Yesterday’s demolition of the Saudi team by Russia ended up with 1.7 million viewers on Fox. Even with an additional 150,000 watching on streaming, the biggest blowout in the past 84-years of FIFA World Cup openers fell a hard 61% on the Fox broadcast alone from what ESPN snagged four years ago.

Downturns like what we saw from 2014 to 2018 in the metered markets mean that clearly time zones are going to be a factor this World Cup. However, the 2018 World Cup opener also declined 24% in MM ratings from the first game of the 2010 tournament, which was held in South Africa – which is relatively close time zone-wise to Moscow.

This year Telemundo has the Spanish language rights to the World Cup but we haven’t seen any numbers from them yet. When those numbers come in, we’ll update.

Hope you enjoyed that Egypt vs. Uruguay match on Fox Sports 1 this morning where the 1930 and 1950 World Cup winners beat the Mohamed Salah-less side 1-0. Right now it’s 0-0 for Group B-ers Morocco and Iran on the pitch at St. Petersburg Stadium on Fox proper. Of course, if you aren’t a supporter of those nations, the big match of today will be Portugal vs Spain later this afternoon – two words, Cristiano Ronaldo. If someone is going to bring the opening day magic and the ratings, he’s the one.

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