ESPN sets US viewing records for UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament
Gabriel Miramar-Garcia ©RapidTVNews | 14-06-2012
ESPN is enjoying unprecedented success and triple-digit viewership growth in European football programming, with the opening UEFA Euro 2012 match between Italy and Spain raking in an average of 2.113 million viewers.
Both the ESPN flagship coverage, led by commentators like hometown hero Alexi Lalas, fan-favourite Steve 'Macca' McManaman, Ian Darke, Roberto Martinez and Michael Ballack, and Spanish-language fare on ESPN Deportes are bringing in record ratings. The success demonstrates the radical turnaround of soccer's popularity in the United States, which was notoriously lacklustre in its support of the Beautiful Game prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
That event, the largest sporting event int he world, was the first time major soccer action was shown as marquee content in English, complete with a full marketing and advertising push. FOX Soccer has also been a driving force, bringing English Premiership action and Champion's League matches to U.S. shores in primetime and at times even teamed with Sunday's big NFL contests. The results have been significant: Americans have begun watching football in droves when it's available.
Overall, ESPN's English-language presentation of the first six games of the UEFA 2012 event is averaging 1,007,000 households and 1.328,000 viewers per game — up 198 percent and 214 percent, respectively, versus the first six games of the UEFA EURO 2008 (338,000 households and 423,000 viewers in '08).
The Italy-Spain match ratings are bigger than any UEFA European Football Championship 2008 match except the final on ABC. That game, Germany vs. Spain, was watched by an average of 3.760 million viewers.
The second most-watched game to-date in 2012 is the Portugal-Germany matchup – a 1.1 household coverage rating, 1,244,000 households, and 1,798,000 viewers, second to only one ESPN game in all of 2008.
ESPN Deportes meanwhile delivered strong ratings for the kickoff of UEFA EURO 2012. Through the first three days (six matches), the matches averaged a 3.2 Hispanic household coverage rating (+66% from 2008) with 166,000 Hispanic households (+147% from 2008). The Spain vs. Italy match on Sunday, June 10, was the highest-rated and most-watched match so far, delivering a 6.0 Hispanic household coverage rating with 313,600 household impressions.
And, since the start of EURO 2012 on June 8, ESPNFC.com globally logged 876,000 daily visitors, 8.5 million page views and 33 million minutes. Compared to the first three days of EURO 2008, the site is up 45%, 11% and 191%, respectively.
Additionally, through the first three days of EURO 2012, ESPN3 and WatchESPN generated 65.8 million minutes to both the English and Spanish language feeds across computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox. On computers alone, it generated an average minute audience of 80,000 and an average of nearly 231,852 daily unique viewers that logged a total of 57.5 million minutes to all six EURO 2012 matches.