A funny thing is happening in the U.S.: People are watching soccer. ESPN said today that Sunday’s Italy-England matchup in the quarterfinals of the European Cup soccer championships was seen by an average of 2.968 million viewers in the States, bigger than any Euro Cup match number this year or in 2008 — except for the ’08 final on ABC (3.760 million for Germany vs. Spain). Overall, the four Euro 2012 quarterfinals last week delivered an average of 1.918 million viewers for ESPN, up 31% compared with the 2008 quarterfinals. The trend continues from earlier last week, when the network reported big U.S. ratings for the final group stage matchups that were up 82% over Euro 2008. June 10th’s Spain-Italy game scored an average of 2.1M viewers.
Of course, Euro 2012 fever has gripped Europe over the past two weeks as TV ratings rise and box office bends — but not quite like Beckham. Here in Europe, where soccer is an obsession, that’s to be expected and studios programmed big-screen releases strategically, knowing most eyes would be on the pitches of Poland and Ukraine this month. Fox’s Prometheus, Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman and Sony’s Men In Black 3 have been the top draws in most territories in June with fresh blood in the form of The Amazing-Spider Man to swing across Europe from Friday onwards. The Euro final is Sunday. (more…)