Through Round of 16, Fox and FS1 are averaging 2.37 million viewers, down 19 percent compared to the 2014 tournament (excluding U.S. matches on ESPN and ABC).
Tune-in for the World Cup continues to improve for Fox Sports, which was always going to be hampered by a challenging time zone, given the tournament’s location in Russia, as well as a lack of U.S. presence this year.
Through the Round of 16, Fox and FS1 are averaging 2.37 million viewers, down 19 percent compared to the 2014 tournament (excluding U.S. matches on ESPN and ABC). That’s an improvement over the early numbers, which had the tournament down as much as 40 percent. Compared to 2010, this year’s World Cup is up 18 percent, through the Round of 16. And as of Monday, June 25, the tournament is flat compared to the last World Cup in 2014.
While acknowledging the inherent challenges, Michael Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ senior vp of research and content strategy, tells The Hollywood Reporter: “It’s really been encouraging to see how the tournament has gathered momentum as it’s gone on.”
The streaming audience is equivalent to 10 percent for weekday matches and close to 6 percent for weekend matches while Fox Sports’ out-of-home viewing is adding close to 20 percent. “Those two things combined are adding approximately 25 percent and 26 percent [to the total audience],” says Mulvihill.
The most-watched match remains Croatia-Denmark (5.91 million viewers) followed by Uruguay-Portugal (5.87 million); both matches were on Fox. England’s dramatic shoot-out victory over Colombia pulled in 4.37 million viewers. But Friday’s upset of Brazil by Belgium could come close. At this point in the quarterfinals, the favorite teams to win the World Cup – Germany, Brazil, Argentina – have been eliminated in dramatic fashion.
“It has been one of the more exciting World Cups,” adds Mullvihill, noting the high scoring and high-profile stars. “Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar [da Silva Santos Júnior] are as big as any non-American stars in sports as far as the U.S. viewers are concerned.”
Meanwhile, Telemundo is averaging close to 2 million viewers through the Round of 16 and 2.17 million with streaming viewership. The Mexico-Brazil matchup on July 2 pulled in 4.96 million viewers on Telemundo (with 5.48 including streaming). The net’s most-watched match is still Mexico’s pivotal win over Germany – the 2014 World Cup champions – in the Group Stage back on June 17; 7.13 million viewers watched on Telemundo, growing to 7.42 million across platforms.