[SOCCER ON THE AIR]ESPN’s coverage of the Brazil-Croatia World Cup opener on Thursday averaged 4.435 million viewers to rank as the most-viewed opening game of the World Cup on record (back to 1994), according to Nielsen. Univision’s presentation of the opening match also delivered the most-viewed opening day performance in its history with an average of 5.1 million viewers.
World Cup vs. NBA:The combined audience for the afternoon coverage of the World Cup opener totaled more than 9.5 million; ABC averaged an estimated 10.6 million viewers -- in prime time -- for Thursday's Game of the NBA championship series.
The ESPN audience is 55 percent higher than the South Africa-Mexico game, the opening match in 2010 World Cup. In addition, it's the fourth most-viewed group match on the ESPN networks after three U.S. games:
Top ESPN Audiences, Group Stage
AVG. MATCH (YEAR)
6,161,000 USA-Algeria (2010)
5,200,000 USA-Slovenia (2010)
On WatchESPN, streaming coverage of Brazil-Croatia produced a 1.1 million unique viewers, up 132 percent compared to the first match of the 2010 World Cup and the highest ever for a WatchESPN event.
The Top 10 Metered Markets (ESPN):
Washington, DC (5.1)
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (4.7)
Los Angeles (4.6)
New York (4.5)
San Francisco (4.3)
Hartford-New Haven (4.3)
-- The Univision opener outdelivered all four NHL Stanley Cup finals games among adults 18-49. It was less than the 5.9 million for the South-Africa-Mexico opener in 2010, but still higher than the opening day average four years ago when they was a second match on Day 1.