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World Cup Ratings: USA Elimination Gives ESPN Biggest Cup Audience Ever

The American team's fourth and final showing in the 2014 FIFA tournament gives more strong overnights to ESPN.

USA vs Belgium World Cup Fans - H 2014
AP Images
World Cup fans

The U.S. team's World Cup hopes may have gone out the window with Tuesday's eliminating loss to Belgium, but ESPN got one last big telecast from the odds-beating Americans. The knockout stage match averaged a 9.6 rating in overnight returns, a new World Cup match record for the sports juggernaut in overnight ratings.

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The U.S. team's previous overnight ratings during the 2014 FIFA tournament were 6.3 for Germany (June 26), 9.1 for Portugal (June 22) and a 7.0 for Ghana (June 17).

ESPN's Tuesday coverage of the Belgium game peaked during the 5:45 p.m.–6 p.m. ET time period with a 14.1 rating. WatchESPN peaked at 1.5 million concurrent online viewers, it said.

When including ABC, which, like ESPN, is part of the Walt Disney Co., Tuesday's World Cup viewership only ranks, in terms of largest metered market rating, behind the 1994 final in the U.S. and the USA versus Brazil game during that year's round of 16, which eventual champions Brazil won 1-0.

Interest was obviously at its peak during Tuesday's decisive game, though the time of the telecast likely kept the game from approaching the record-breaking haul from the second game. That tie with Portugal had the helpful scheduling of a Sunday evening, making for the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history with 18.2 million viewers.

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Full ratings, including total viewership for the game, will be available later on Wednesday—as will data for the Spanish-language telecast on Univision and streaming for both nets.