USA-Japan registered a blockbuster 8.6 rating on ESPN Sunday, falling short of the number USA and
Brazil China rang up in the 1999 Final (13.3). Two things to keep in mind – the 1999 game was held in the United States and televised on ABC. The highest-rated market for Sunday’s match was in Baltimore, and for whatever reason, DC and Norfolk were also in the Top 5.
What does all of this mean? People like events featuring American teams! This is true. As Dan Wolken points out, the 2010 Olympic hockey gold medal game between the US and Canada was watched by 27 million people, making it one of the most-watched sporting events of 2009 or 2010. And?
Clay Travis noted that the women’s soccer rating topped the average for the 2010 World Series between the Rangers and the Giants. Of course, that was played in the midst of football season. (Soccer fan response: But the World Series was at night when more people are watching TV and it aired on network TV!) Travis also mentioned how the rating for USA-Japan crushed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
But trying to read too much into the 8.6 is probably not wise. I hate the phrase, “it is what it is” … but that’s what this rating is. A large number of people watched a women’s soccer match. It set a record on twitter! Will this lead ESPN to televise more women’s soccer friendlies? Who knows. At the local level, perhaps there will be a spike in little girls wanting to play soccer because they thought Alex Morgan was terrific or Abby Wambach was awesome. Wambach and goalie Hope Solo will be on Letterman tonight, and it’s safe to say those two, along with Morgan, will be busy on the media/marketing front in the months to come.