The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.C. tops TV markets in World Cup opener ratings

Arena de Sao Paulo for the opening match. (By Paulo Whitaker — Reuters)

Brazil was not the only winner on the opening day of the World Cup. Washington won the ESPN ratings race.

D.C.’s TV market was first in the nation with a 5.1 rating, edging Boston (5.0), Miami-Fort Lauderdale (4.7), Los Angeles (4.6) and New York (4.5). The next five were San Francisco, Hartford, Providence, Austin and Orlando.

Washington was also the No. 1 market for the English Premier League on NBC and NBC Sports Network in 2013-14.

The Brazil-Croatia opener — which kicked off at 4 p.m. ET and 1 p.m. PT on a weekday — averaged a 2.8 national rating with 4.435 million viewers, the highest-rated and most-watched first match since Nielsen began keeping records in 1994, according to ESPN. Compared to the 2010 opener, featuring South Africa and Mexico, ESPN saw a 49 percent ratings increase and a 55 percent rise in viewership.

WatchESPN attracted 1.1 million unique viewers, the most in platform history.

Univision reported 5.1 million viewers. Another 1.9 million watched on Univision Digital.

In all, the match drew about 9.5 million TV viewers and 3 million online. That night, ABC’s coverage of Game 4 of the NBA finals had a TV audience estimated at 10.6 million.

The viewership for Univision’s coverage of the opening ceremony was 2.8 million.