One of the challenges of the 2019 Women's World Cup
-- and all World Cups played outside the Americas -- for American networks is games kick off in the morning and afternoon as opposed to in prime time on the East Coast.
That was quite evident in the final viewing figures for Tuesday's USA-Thailand game. Despite the excitement of the USA's record-breaking 13-0 win, viewership was down sharply from that for the USA's 2015 opener against Australia -- and that's despite the fact USA-Thailand aired on Fox and USA-Australia in 2015 aired on FS1, the Fox sports channel that is generally much less watched.
The metered marketing rating for USA-Thailand was 2.2 -- up from 2.1 four years earlier -- but Austin Karp, managing editor/digital at Sports Business Journal, reported that the "total audience delivery" was 2.72 million viewers, down from 3.31 million television viewers for the U.S. opener in 2015. (Soccer viewing figures historically fall from the levels of the metered marketing ratings once smaller and more rural markets are accounted for.)
This overnight DID NOT hold. Fox's total audience delivery for Tuesday afternoon's USA-Thailand game averaged 2.72 million viewers (TV+streaming). Four years ago, USA-Australia on FS1 in primetime drew 3.31 million TV viewers. So a drop of 18% there. https://t.co/TFxsJYIaBy— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) June 13, 2019
"Total audience delivery" is the measurement introduced to account for those
watching on television or via a streaming device (laptop, tablet, smart phone).
A big reason for the 18 percent drop: the 2015 Women's World Cup was played in Canada, where the USA-Australia match in Edmonton kicked off at 6:30 pm. CT (7:30 pm. ET). Tuesday's USA-Thailand game kicked off at 9 pm. local time in Reims (3 pm. ET).
As should be expected with more consumers using streaming devices to watch sports events and having the ability to use them during the day, USA-Thailand set a Fox Sports record. It was the most streamed game ever for the Women's World Cup with 315,000 viewers.
On the Spanish-language front, the news was better. USA-Thailand delivered 444,000 TV-only viewers on Telemundo, more than doubling viewership for USA-Australia at the 2015 Women’s World Cup (203,000).
The audiences for U.S. Women's World Cup matches will grow as they did in 2015:
AVG. MATCH (NETWORK)
3,311,000 Game 1: USA-Australia (Fox Sports 1)
4,500,000 Game 2: USA-Sweden (Fox)
5,043,000 Game 3: USA-Nigeria (Fox)
4,700,000 Game 4: USA-Colombia (Fox Sports 1)
5,700,000 Game 5: USA-China (Fox)
8,400,000 Game 6: USA-Germany (Fox)
25,400,000 Game 7: USA-Japan (Fox)
The debate about the USA-Thailand goalfest will help.
"Anytime you get a record number of goals it gets people talking and excited," Fox Sports executive vice president and head of programming Bill Wagner told Multichannel.com. "We expect the U.S. women's team ratings to keep increasing as the tournament goes on."
The difference between the TV audiences for the opening games of the 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cups is the opposite in Europe, where Women's World Cup viewing records were being shattered because the matches generally air at more favorable viewing times. (A huge bump in media coverage has also helped significantly in France and England.)
France. The host Bleues' opening game at the Women's World Cup against South Korea averaged 9.83 million viewers on TF1, more than double previous record for a women's soccer game on France's No. 1 network, and 826,000 on pay channel Canal+ for a total of 10.66 million French television viewers. (The viewerships for Wednesday's France-Norway game: 9.4 million on TF1 and 892,000 on pay channel Canal+ for a total of 10.3 million.)
England. BBC One's coverage of England’s 2-1 over Scotland attracted an average audience of 4.6 million viewers, a new record for a women’s soccer match in England.
Netherlands. The Leeuwinnen's game against New Zealand on Tuesday afternoon averaged 1,613,000 viewers on free-to-air channel NPO1, with a share of 79.7 percent of all people watching TV at the time.
Sweden. TV4's coverage of Sweden-Chile produced an average audience of 975,875 with a share of 43.6 percent, making it the day's most-watch program.