ESPN garners record ratings for Brazil-Croatia World Cup opener
Gabriel Miramar-Garcia
| 16 June 2014
In a testament to the beautiful game taking off in the United States, ESPN has scored the highest ever ratings for an opening game for the World Cup on record (back to 1994), according to Nielsen across linear and digital channels.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup saw Brazil meet Croatia in a contest that saw the home team win 3-1. In the US it averaged a 2.8 rating and garnered 4.435 million viewers on ESPN, to rank as the highest rated and most viewed opening game of the tournament ever for the network.

That rating is 49% higher than the opening match in 2010, South Africa vs. Mexico, which garnered a 1.9 rating. The audience for Brazil vs. Croatia was up 55% over 2010, which had 2.856 million viewers.

In addition, of the 205 Group Play games ESPN networks have aired since 1994, this contest is the fourth highest rated and fourth most viewed, topped only by three US games in the 2010 tournament: US vs. Algeria drew a 4.0 rating and 6.161 million viewers; US vs. Slovenia delivered a 3.4 rating and 5.2 million viewers; and US vs. Colombia, which drew a 2.9 rating and 4.81 million viewers.

Including a record audience on WatchESPN, across all platforms ESPN's presentation of the first of 64 games in the next month averaged 4.889 million viewers at any time.

On WatchESPN, Brazil vs. Croatia produced a record 1.1 million unique viewers and 50.1 million minutes across all streams and devices, up 132% and 172%, respectively, compared to the first match of the 2010 World Cup. The 1.1 million unique viewers were the highest ever for a WatchESPN event, and total minutes was second only to the 2014 BCS Championship Game.

Consumption of digital content across ESPN platforms was also up. Video starts on increased by 553%, compared to day one of World Cup 2010., which includes, was up 26% in unique visitors from the first day of World Cup 2010, including 12.8 million video starts for clips, up 62%. Unique visitors to the ESPN Mobile Web were up 65%, while unique visitors to the ESPN SportCenter app were up 465%, compared to the first day of World Cup 2010.