Which Market Has the Highest World Cup TV Ratings In the USA?

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 19:  The New York City skyline is viewed October 19, 2009 in New York City. A new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECP) finds that rising sea levels due to global warming threatens some of the world?s major cities. According to the report, seas are rising twice as fast as recently projected threatening such sea level cities as New York, Miami, London, Tokyo, Mumbai and Amsterdam. World leaders are scheduled to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark in December for the UN-sponsored climate-change conference where issues such as rising sea levels are to be discussed.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

World Cup fever has swept the United States in the past few weeks. Everywhere you look, it seems to be there. In fact, Nielsen is reporting that World Cup soccer telecasts aired on all English and Spanish language networks have reached an estimated 34% of all U.S. TV viewers. That’s an incredible number when you consider how large the population is in the United States.

According to Nielsen, viewers in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market are watching the World Cup more than any other market in the country. Through Tuesday, Miami has the highest ratings for both English language (3.6 HH rating) and Spanish language (5.2 HH rating) World Cup telecasts.

New York City has the second highest ratings for English language telecasts (3.3 HH rating), followed by Washington, DC (3.2 HH rating). San Diego, which was the top rated English language market in 2006, ranks fourth so far this year with a 3.1 average household rating.

Interestingly, when you look at the highest ranked local markets in the US for World Cup TV ratings, only 50% of the top ten Spanish-language markets have a Major League Soccer team, while only 60% of the top ten English-language markets have a MLS team.

In related news, out of the 18 cities selected for inclusion in the USA bid for the 2018/2022 World Cup tournaments, Miami was this week the first city out of the 18 to surpass 50,000 signatures. In comparison, the supposed soccer mad city of Seattle only has 34,000 votes. The complete list of 18 bid cities can be found at www.gousabid.com/city

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About Christopher Harris

Publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris founded the site in 2005. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who was born and raised in Wales, has lived in Florida since 1984, and supported Swansea City since 1979. Last but not least, he got engaged during half-time of a MLS game.
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18 Responses to Which Market Has the Highest World Cup TV Ratings In the USA?

  1. arnie says:

    The US should not bid for the world cup. So many other places haven’t hosted it. In the words of Janet Jackson “let’s wait a while…”

    • Charles says:

      Many places have hosted two already. There just aren’t that many places big enough to host, combine that with the other factors and you have the US ( which by the way I think still has all the attendance records ) hosting its second for sure. Just a matter of when.

  2. Diane says:

    According to Nielsen, San Diego is the TOP market for watching the world cup US games…San Diego was the top market again for the last match delivering a 15.4 rating for the U.S-Ghana game. Much higher than the ratings for any city in Florida…are you referring to an averaged ALL game rating? Please help me understand…thanks!
    Diane Scavuzzo
    Editor in Chief,

  3. eplnfl says:

    Just great news that so much of the US is watching. Hopefully MLS can use those numbers for it’s future expansion.

  4. Jordan says:

    Miami has 2 million more people than Seattle. And far more Hispanics. I think its unfair to slight Seattle that way when they have a population of only 3.5 million. Now, San Diego has only 3m, but they are also 100 yards from Mexico and have a massive Hispanic population.

  5. guest says:

    soccer expansion in miami? they have a hispanic team called Miami FC and nobody cares. of course miami has a huge latino population but they don’t support local soccer.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Wrong on many different levels. Not all of the players on Miami FC are hispanic. They have some promising American players on the team, too. And I disagree that “nobody cares.” Yes, the crowds aren’t as large as we would hope, but I disagree with you that hispanics don’t “support local soccer.”

      They are very picky. And they want the best soccer possible. They have high standards. But I wouldn’t write the Miami market off especially when you consider how many soccer fans are down here.

      The market needs a well-run organization who can do a good job of going out into the community and getting people inside the stadium. Then, it’s a matter of having a good team on display who fans can believe in, week-in week-out.

      The Gaffer

  6. Charles says:

    Unfortunately, none of this has not translated to anything that will make the US successful in the future ( in my opinion ), having a popular US league.
    Until there is big money in it, the US best athletes will continue to play other sports too much for the US to be a soccer power.

    • Jack in TX says:

      Big money is only part of the equation. The other element hindering attracting the best talent to play in the US is the inability to compete on an international stage like the UEFA Champions League and Europa league.

      The US and Mexico are the only nations with leagues where every club is fully professional. I can’t imagine any of the world’s best coming to play against a Caribbean team in a UCL/Europa-style league. Likewise, not much revenue in that TV rights contract.

  7. bantamsir says:

    Good job Miami. If they get a team in the MLS, I hope the people aren’t too sophisticated for it.

    No usl1/nasl/mls team so nice going Indy too.

    votes (jun28) – population msa – pop of metro/votes

    miami 58454 5547058 94.8961234474972
    houston 49858 5867489 117.684002567291
    los angeles 46905 12874797 274.486664534698
    ny/nj 44787 19069796 425.788644026168
    seattle 34035 3407849 100.127780226238
    atlanta 33383 5475213 164.012012101968
    tampa bay 31830 2747272 86.3107759974866
    washington dc 28450 5476241 192.486502636204
    philadelphia 28351 5968252 210.512927233607
    baltimore 27350 2690886 98.3870566727605
    indianapolis 22188 1743658 78.5856318730846
    dallas 21662 6447615 297.646339211522
    kansas city 21509 2067585 96.1265051838765
    boston 19566 4588680 234.523152407237
    denver 16421 2552195 155.42262955971
    san diego 15941 3053793 191.568471237689
    nashville 14057 1582264 112.560574802589
    phoenix 10979 4364094 397.494671645869

  8. Clayton says:

    I’ve read multiple articles on ESPN.com saying that San Diego was the top rated market for each US game, so I’m not sure how the data is being manipulated here. I’m also not sure Miami is a sports town, let alone a soccer town. Doesn’t Miami FC get like 1,000 people per match? Sure, if you built an awesome stadium in downtown, MLS would work well there, but you could say that for about 10 other cities too. Tampa and San Diego deserve teams before Miami.

  9. dspirgen says:

    MLS loves to spin the facts, pretending that soccer is exploding as a spectator sport. But look carefully at the wording of this report. Soccer broadcasts are “reaching” 34% of all US households. That means that 34% of the households have ACCESS to the games; it does not mean that anyone is WATCHING. The real numbers? Even in New York, the best TV market for soccer, only 3.3% of households are watching soccer. Sorry MLS, you got a LONG way to go.

    • amerisnob says:

      “A total of 99.2 million U.S. viewers have watched”

      99.2 million watching in a 300 million person country. Yeah 34% is nearly correct.

  10. Miami Ultra says:

    What is interesting to note about the overall WC ratings is that not only is Miami-Ft. Lauderdale is #1, but also neighboring West Palm Beach is #7.

    Also, while San Diego was in fact the best market for the English language US games, I believe Miami-Ft. Lauderdale was #3 and West Palm was #4. With games vs. England, Algeria, Slovenia and Ghana, throngs of people weren’t cheering the opponents. People were watching because of the US team, which is a good indicator for MLS. The profile of the US MNT and MLS has been raised significantly since the Fusion were around.

    South Florida as a whole has a large base as far as potential TV followers when it comes to a future MLS team. Much like in the other sports, MLS support could be middle of the pack(Dolphins, Heat) or poor(Marlins, Panthers), but high TV viewership could offset that and make the market attractive to MLS, as it obviously is to the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

    If these great local WC numbers are enough to pique the interest of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who’s football stadium will be losing summertime MLB baseball in 2012, don’t be surprised to see South Florida back in MLS.

  11. Look Younger says:

    I can see why this subject will impress others to write about it as well

  12. Christopher Hacke says:

    FIFA has just granted the 2018 World Cup to russia who will have a difficult enough time to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. then to Quatar in 2022. Should be interesting where the women have to wear shawls and no skin showing. Just goes to prove the executive FIFA committee is as corrupt as the IOC when it comes to bribery and votes for cash. Quatar where the temp. rises to 120 during the summer days. Russia where the mafia is in control of the government through Putin and his cohorts. Amateur sports no longer exists. the corruption of pay for play has permeated down through the high school level – just check out the Reggie Bush fiasco, the LeBron James payment to leave high school for the NBA and regardless of the NCAA whitewash, the Cam Newton embarassment.

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