Spain's dismantling of Italy in the final of UEFA Euro 2012 tourney played before more than 4 million viewers on Sunday, the most ever for the event in the U.S.
ESPN averaged 4.07 million viewers for its coverage of Spain's 4-0 win over Italy on July 1 from 2:29 p.m. to 5:08 p.m. (ET), according to Nielsen data. That was the largest Euro audience ever in this nation and speaks to futbol's growing popularity in the U.S., as ESPN topped ABC's presentation of Spain's 1-0 win over Germany during the Euro 2008 final, which drew 3.76 million watchers.
The 8% Nielsen amelioration came despite La Furia Roja's drubbing of the Azzuri and the cable network being in some 15 million fewer homes than its Disney broadcast brethren. Household impressions grew 6% to just under 2.7 million from 2.55 million in 2008, as the ESPN achieved the Euro's best-ever Stateside rating with a 2.4, up 4% from ABC's 2.3 four years ago.
In staking its claim to being perhaps the top team ever, Spain became the first side to repeat as European champions, with the 2010 FIFA World Cup title tucked in between for good measure.
Over the course of Euro 2012's 31 matches, ESPN and ESPN2 averaged a 0.9 U.S. household rating, up 50% from a 0.6 in 2008. Household impressions soared 51% to 993,000 from 657,000, with viewership climbing by a like ratio to 1.3 million from 859,000, according to Nielsen data.