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It's Just Those 6 O'clock Blues

Please, Just Don’t Call It Football

By 07.12.10

Whether you like it or not, the World Cup has certainly helped soccer’s case for a spot in the American sports landscape. Sure there was diving. Sure there were Europeans everywhere. And sure, there were vuvuzelas. Despite all the reasons to hate soccer, Americans, for the most part, still cared about the World Cup. What else were we going to watch for the last month? Baseball?

Initial ratings for Sunday’s World Cup final in which Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in overtime appeared to be flat compared with the 2006 tournament, ESPN officials said Monday, though other figures indicate that more people may have been tuned in.

Sunday’s pre-game activities and match on ABC and ESPN scored an 8.6 rating among the nation’s top 56 “metered” markets, exactly the same rating that the final in which Italy defeated France on July 9, 2006, according to ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer. The ratings figure is the percentage of households watching the match.

The match itself, which ran from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. EDT, posted a 9.9 rating, Hofheimer said, but comparable figures for the 2006 match were not available. “Fast national” ratings, an indication of the entire country’s viewership, are expected to be available later Monday. –WSJ

Soccer’s ultimate prize was not the ratings bonanza ESPN was hoping for, most likely due to early morning and afternoon start times. However, viewership was up from the 2006 World Cup. How did such a thing happen, you ask? I’d put my money on the combined efforts of Larissa Riquelme and TeamBJ. As a red-blooded American sports fan, you’re bound to get my interest perked with promises of Latin American boobs and Scandinavian fellatio.

I’d jump through a ring of fire on a Razor scooter, let alone watch soccer, if I was told to by Larissa Riquelme. Too bad she didn’t actually run around naked. I was looking forward to that video, you know, to research Paraguayan culture. Nevertheless, a dramatic performance by the American team was beneficial to the World Cup. Why would we watch if we were just going to get our asses kicked every time we stepped out on the field? The World Cup kept its popularity in American culture even after their team was defeated by those damned Ghanaians.

The identical metered market ratings come despite a jump in overall ratings for the tournament. The three Walt Disney Co. (DIS) networks broadcasting the games — ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 — averaged a 1.9 rating for the first 62 World Cup matches, or all games up through the semifinals. The figures don’t include Sunday’s final or Saturday’s third-place match in which Germany defeated Uruguay, 3-2.

Those ratings are up from 1.4 through the same point in 2006, an increase of 36%. And while the metered ratings for Sunday were identical with four years ago, statistics show there likely were more households overall that were tuned into the contest.

ESPN figures show that the average numbers of households tuned in for the first 62 games of the month-long tournament was up by a greater percentage, 41%, with 2,227,000 against the 1,575,000 from 2006. The number of total viewers was up 45%, to 2,984,000 from 2,057,000.

Viewership among males aged 18-34 was up 27%, while the 18-49 group jumped 46% and the 25-54 group rose 50% for the first 62 games.

ESPN also says that World Cup content online captured 4.4 billion minutes of usage through the semifinals. The sports franchise says that 110,000 people per minute were using ESPN content to monitor World Cup action throughout the tournament. –WSJ

The internet got it’s fair share of fun out of the World Cup, too. I’m sure we all had fun with the vuvuzela meme. Youtube did, by letting you add vuvuzela to anything from nut-shots to Keyboard Cat. They had the right idea. I’d still rather listen to vuvuzela than Chocolate Rain.

So here’s the million dollar question. Are you more of a soccer fan because of the World Cup? Feel free to answer in the comments and over at Asylum. I’d write something funny here, but I’d rather be played off by Keyboard Cat. He thinks he’s people!

ASYLUM POLL: ARE YOU MORE OF A SOCCER FAN BECAUSE OF THE WORLD CUP?


TAGSLARISSA RIQUELMESOCCERVUVUZELAWORLD CUP

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