World Cup 2014: Ratings Soar as Spain Slumps Against Chile

4:07 AM PST 06/19/2014 by Scott Roxborough
AP Images
Spainish fans didn't have much to cheer about as their team got eliminated from the World Cup.

UPDATED: ESPN averages a 2.6 rating for the Spain vs. Chile match while nearly 70 percent of Spain's television viewers, and tens of millions across Europe, watch as the defending champions are eliminated in the first round.

All of Spain — and a good chunk of the world — was watching. But it didn't help. The Spanish national soccer team, winners of the 2010 World Cup and consecutive European Cups, went out of this year's tournament with a whimper, losing 0-2 to Chile on Wednesday.

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ESPN averaged a 2.6 rating for the Spain vs. Chile match, its best performance of the night. Across all 20 World Cup matches so far, ESPN networks are averaging a 2.8 rating, a 27 percent boost on the first 20 matches of the 2010 World Cup. To date, the highest-rated markets on the ESPN networks are Washington D.C., with 4.6, San Francisco with a 4.1 and New York with a 3.9.

But those figures pale before television ratings in Europe, where World Cup matches, most broadcast in primetime, utterly dominate viewing. After Spain's defeat, strong ratings were the one bright spot for Iberian broadcaster Telecinco.  13.2 million Spaniards, 67.6 percent of the television audience, tuned in to watch their side go out. It was the highest-ever rating in Spain for a match at this stage in the tournament.

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The ratings joy for Telecinco will be short-lived, however, as the network is likely to see viewership slump for the remainder of the Cup.

The opposite is likely in Chile, where Wednesday's match took a 54 percent share of the viewing audience across both the free-to-air TVN network and cable channel Canal 13, who simulcast the game. The actual viewership in the country was likely much higher as the figures do not include the audience of satellite network DirectTV, but is still near record levels for the Latin American nation.

Across soccer-mad Europe, fans were glued to Spain vs. Chile. The match, broadcast in primetime on the continent, drew 15.29 million viewers on German pubweb ARD, a 51.4 percent share and the best performance of the tournament so far for games that didn't involve the German team. In Italy, 10.14 million viewers, 38.22 percent of the audience, watched Spain vs. Chile on public broadcaster RAI and pay-TV platform Sky Italia. 9.4 million watched on TF1 in France, a 38.3 percent overall share, while BBC1 averaged 8.02 million viewers, or 38.7 percent of the viewing audience, for its broadcast of the match.

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But it was the Dutch who set the evening's record, in terms of market share, for their team's game against Australia, played earlier in the day. An astounding 7.87 million people in the Netherlands, 88.1 percent of the viewing public and nearly half the country's total population, watched Team Oranje defeat Australia's Socceroos 3-2 in a closely fought battle. Viewership on Dutch network NOS peaked at 8.8 million at the moment of the final whistle.

After the Netherlands' 5-1 pounding of Spain in their opening match — a game that presaged Spain's early exit — the Dutch are heavy favorites to go all the way. Expect the streets of Amsterdam to be empty in the coming weeks and ratings records to be broken.

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