Women's World Cup TV ratings in perspective

When the USA won the 1999 Women's World Cup final, 11.3 million U.S. households tuned in on ABC to see Brandi Chastain throw off her shirt in celebration after the deciding penalty kick.

When the Americans opened play against North Korea at the 2007 Women's World Cup on Tuesday morning, only 195,000 U.S. households were watching ESPN2's early-morning telecast from China.

That dramatic drop in viewership underscores the unique success of the 1999 Women's World Cup as much as the drop in interest in the Women's World Cup.

Five years, TV viewers were forced to rise early to watch the USA in action in another world championship played in Asia. The USA-Portugal game was watched by 998,000 households on ESPN2.

But before U.S. interest in China '07 is dismissed --the Tuesday morning rating did double the rating in the same time slot a year earlier -- two other household figures need to be put in perspective.

ESPN2's reairing of the USA-North Korea game on Tuesday evening drew an audience of more than 340,000 households.

By comparison, the most-viewed MLS match on ESPN2 was David Beckham's first appearance for the Los Angeles Galaxy last month. The D.C. United-Galaxy game drew 421,000 household impressions.

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