While soccer's World Cup tournament does not draw Super Bowl-like numbers in the U.S., the 2006 mega-event is pulling in improved numbers and setting records with Spanish-language audiences in this country.
The Mexico-Iran matchup was the most-watched sporting event ever on a U.S. Spanish-language network, with 5.2 million viewers, according to Univision, which is broadcasting the games in Spanish. ABC/ESPN have the English-language rights, although many non-Spanish speakers say anecdotally that they prefer to tune into Univision's coverage.
After the first weekend of play, Univision's coverage averaged 2.6 million viewers, up an average 1.9 million viewers for the 2002 Tournament. The location of this year's event certainly helps TV ratings: The 2006 event is being played in Germany, and live games run in the morning through the late afternoon, compared to the 2002 tournament in Korea and Japan, where games run in the middle of the night or on tape delay.
ABC is also reporting higher ratings for this year's tournament. The three games that aired on ABC last weekend averaged a 2.8 rating, up 65% from a 1.7 average for two matches that aired during the 2002 event's opening weekend. The most-watched game on ABC was the scoreless contest between Trinidad & Tobago and Sweden, which turned in a 2.9 rating.