By Paul Kennedy
There seems to be no stopping the growth of the U.S. viewership for international soccer.
After the first three days of Euro 2012, four group games on ESPN drew higher ratings than those for any first-round game four years earlier.
Sunday's Spain-Italy game, which kicked off at noon ET, drew a 1.7 rating, higher than the 1.6 rating for the Detroit-Cincinnati baseball game on ESPN.
Three other games drew higher ratings than the 0.9 rating that was the best rating at Euro 2008 for a group match: Germany-Portugal (1.3), Netherlands-Denmark (1.2) and Ireland-Croatia (1.2).
To put soccer in perspective on the American sports scene, here a few other ratings over the weekend:
-- Game 7 of the Miami-Boston NBA series drew a 9.1 rating, the highest ever for an NBA game on cable TV;
-- Game 5 of the NHL's Stanley Cup final between Los Angeles and Detroit on NBC drew a 2.6 rating.
USA-A&B NUMBERS. The USA's opening game of World Cup 2014 qualifying against Antigua & Barbuda on Friday drew a 0.4 rating on ESPN. That translated into 899,000 viewers.
MORE TV NUMBERS. Univision's coverage of the Mexico-Brazil international friendly on June 3 averaged 3.3 million viewers, beating Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals by 13 percent. The friendly made Univision the No. 1 broadcast station in its time period in such major markets as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco and Phoenix.
EURO SOCIAL MEDIA RANKINGS. Who is the king of social media at Euro 2012? Rankings at Socialbakers put England in first place on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
MESSI LIGHTS UP NEW YORK. The day before he went out and scored a hat trick for Argentina against Brazil, a moving image of Lionel Messi and his adizero f50 cleats was displayed across a prominent skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. adidas used Facebook to promote the display. Fans who joined the conversation on the adidas soccer Facebook page saw their names projected on the image.
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