Report: World Cup audiences on U.S. television down 44 percent from 2014

Not surprisingly, viewership for the 2018 World Cup on the Fox Sports and Telemundo networks is down. Bloomberg reported that it was down about 44 percent compared to the 2014 World Cup, according to Nielsen.

Average audiences are down on both English-language (Fox and FS1) and Spanish-language (Telemundo) through the first set of matches:

2018 Fox/FS1: 1.98 million
2014 ABC/ESPN/ESPN2: 3.55 million
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2018 Telemundo: 1.87 million
2014 Univision: 3.3 million

The USA's failure to qualify is a big factor in Fox's drop in comparison to the viewerships on the Disney networks four years ago.

The USA-Ghana match in 2014 averaged 11.1 million viewers on ESPN. The most-watched match so far on Fox was 4 million for Brazil-Switzerland.

A bigger factor: early kickoff times. On most days during the group stage, action kicks off at 8 a.m. ET (5 a.m. PT). In Brazil, matches often finished in prime time on the East Coast.

The 2018 World Cup is also fighting the trend of changing viewer habits as younger viewers are abandoning traditional television.

“It’s a combination of all these things that leads you to this drop,” sports media consultant Chris Bevilacqua told Bloomberg. “These numbers aren’t necessarily a shock. This is probably along the lines of what the networks thought was going to happen once the U.S. failed to qualify.”
11 comments about "Report: World Cup audiences on U.S. television down 44 percent from 2014".
  1. nick p, June 23, 2018 at 10:15 a.m.

     I wish we could have Ian Darke on commentary during this World Cup 

  2. beautiful game, June 23, 2018 at 10:25 a.m.

    Too many cameras on the pitch bouncing around images of individual players, coaches, and referee. too many times I have counted 7/8 separate close-up in a matter of 22 seconds. This and the ground level camera on the sideline and behind the goal eliminate every possibility of a clear perspective of players positioning/movement. The so-called video experts are butchering the time, and space element so internalized with the scope of the game.  

  3. Wallace Wade, June 23, 2018 at 10:55 a.m.

    The biggest factor is not early start times. Take a couple of guesses about the biggest factors...

  4. Ric Fonseca replied, June 23, 2018 at 1:24 p.m.

    WW, I don't think that many people will actually get up for the gawd-awful telecast time - that is thos of us who live out here in the "wild-wild-west, or PDT!!!)  Then again there are those who will jusr readjuct their sleeping habits to make sure to catch the games, after all it is only for one month.  Also, and alas, I really do not believe that the ratings are down simply and because the US didn't qualify is the reason.... 

  5. Karl Schreiber, June 23, 2018 at 4:34 p.m.

    Problem is, we don’t have any skin in the games! The times are fine for retired people in the western states. A definite turn-off for me are comments by some of the people on Red Square, especially those with strong foreign accents including two lovely British ladies, Kelly Smith and especially Kate Abdo (give me a break! What version of English is THIS? Can’t we get American English on an American network?? Oh no, it’s FOX, Murdoch, the Aussie guy…). And then an otherwise good game announcer using wrong soccer terminology (“byline”?*^# WTH!) Glad I can switch to several Spanish language channels where I’m living!

  6. frank schoon, June 23, 2018 at 4:40 p.m.

    The starting are fine for me on the east coast, but obviously I miss quite a few games for they were just awful. There have only been 3 good games. Mexico vs Germany, Spain vs Portugal, Croatia vs Argentina and Korea vs Mexico. When teams park the bus in front of their own goal the whole game and hoping for a quick counter, a corner kick, of dead ball play to score from than I wonder why they even make the effort to even bother showing up to the WC. There are teams like Australia, Iran, Nigeria, Sweden, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Iceland and a few others are an embarassment. I wish WC would stick with the best 16 teams instead of 32 and possible 48 teams in the near future. The whole drive for inclusivity is ruining the quality of the WC games...

  7. frank schoon replied, June 23, 2018 at 4:48 p.m.

    As far as the announcers go they are horrible and good ones like Seedorf, Hiddink..aren't given really any time to really talk in depth about anything and up saying the standard cliche. And then they have the women the doing color commentary which to me is a joke, most of what they say is so canned and scripted reading off the teleprompter, and have nothing insightful to say. I think the women should stay with the women's game, period, for I already have enough difficulty just listening to men's analysis

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, June 24, 2018 at 7:03 p.m.

    I listened to Aly Wagner a bit and liked her comments. I like listening to Judy Foudy commenting on ESPN broadcasts and would rather have her commenting on the men's matches too than some of the others. I remember being happy with Michael Ballack and Alejandro Moreno. Generally speaking I like former players who turn commentator (except former USMNT players I generally ignore).    

  9. James Madison, June 23, 2018 at 6:49 p.m.

    It looks more like 4.4% to me, not 44%.

  10. Right Winger, June 26, 2018 at 10:20 p.m.

    I can’t watch the games live for many reasons but do record the games and watch them in the evening.  How does this figure into records.

  11. R2 Dad, June 26, 2018 at 11:47 p.m.

    Just wait until 2026, when crummy team #74 plays crummy team #82, in a half-empty stadium on the west coast at 9pm.THEN we'll see what poor TV rating really look like.

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