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Women’s World Cup final delivers viewers for Fox, despite early start time

The U.S. celebrates its win. (Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
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The Fox television broadcast of the U.S. women’s national team’s 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on Sunday in the World Cup final averaged 14.3 million viewers. That number is down from the 2015 final between the United States and Japan, which aired in prime time and delivered 25.4 million viewers, but up from 13.5 million registered by the 2011 final between the U.S. and Japan.

Household ratings for the entire tournament on Fox finished up 2 percent from the 2015 edition, despite many games during that World Cup, which was hosted by Canada, taking place in prime time. Ratings for the France-based 2019 tournament were up 11 percent vs. the 2011 tournament, which took place in Germany and aired on ESPN and ESPN2.

The entire tournament attracted an estimated 1 billion worldwide viewers, according to FIFA.

Sunday’s viewership in the United States was 22 percent higher than for the 2018 men’s World Cup final from Russia between France and Croatia, which averaged 11.4 million viewers.

The top overnight markets for the final were Austin (16.7 rating/46 share), San Diego (14.9/42), Washington (13.1/34), Kansas City (12.9/32), Seattle (12.7/39), Portland (12.4/39), San Francisco (12.3/40), Boston (12.0/33), Baltimore (12.0/30) and Los Angeles (11.4/36). The rating is a percentage of TV homes tuned into the broadcast; the share is the percentage of televisions in use at the time of the broadcast watching a particular program.

The average minute audience on streaming platforms was 289,000 viewers, according to Fox, making it the most-streamed Women’s World Cup final in history, up more than 400 percent from the 2015 final.

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Viewership in the Netherlands for the final reached record highs with 5.5 million watching, making it the most-watched women’s soccer match in Dutch television history. A massive 88 percent of the country’s viewing public tuned in for the game, which continued a trend of viewership records for this tournament across Europe and around the world. The round-of-16 matchup between host France and Brazil was reportedly the most-watched women’s soccer match of all time, drawing 35 million viewers in Brazil and 10.6 million in France.

In England, the semifinal between the United States and England on the BBC attracted the network’s largest-ever audience for a women’s soccer match and was the network’s most-watched program this year with 11.7 million viewers.

How much the increased interest in women’s soccer will carry over beyond the tournament remains to be seen. ESPN announced a new rights agreement this month with the National Women’s Soccer League to televise 14 matches on ESPNews and ESPN2 during the current season, beginning July 14.

Read more on the Women’s World Cup:

Megan Rapinoe — unafraid to do it her way, on and off the field — is the best of sports in 2019

The World Cup has been a smash. But women’s soccer still craves an elusive goal: Lasting impact.

USWNT’s euphoric celebration was worthy of the World Cup champs

USWNT’s World Cup domination, by the numbers

How the U.S. won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, game by game

Trumps, Obamas, Clintons congratulate USWNT after World Cup triumph

Trump appears to backpedal on White House invite for USWNT, saying ‘we’ll look at that’

Women’s World Cup champion U.S. team invited to the Capitol by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi