June 15, 2010
By Jeff Beer, with files from Canadian Press
The CBC is reporting record audiences for the opening weekend of the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa. Saturday's England/USA match drew 2.275 million viewers, the highest average audience for a preliminary round World Cup match broadcast in Canadian history.
Five of the first eight live-aired matches attracted more than one million viewers, in some cases tripling average audiences for preliminary round matches in 2006. Aside from the aforementioned England/USA draw, the draw between Uruguay and France on Friday drew 1.01 million, Argentina's 1-0 win over Nigeria on Saturday had 1.3 million, Ghana's 1-0 win over Serbia saw 1.21 million viewers, and 1.66 million people saw Germany's 4-0 win over Australia on Sunday.
The network is also reporting that the opening days of the tournament have notched more than 750,000 live streams online at CBCSports.ca/fifaworldcup.
The numbers mark a significant growth in Canadian audiences for the World Cup over the last decade, considering that for the CBC broadcast of the World Cup final game in 2002, just 1.08 million viewers watched Brazil beat Germany 2-0.
In the U.S., Spanish-language channel Univision averaged 5.4 million viewers for this year's opening game--double its audience for Germany opening the 2006 World Cup against Costa Rica.
And U.S. Soccer said Saturday's American game against England on ABC was the most viewed World Cup first-round match and fifth most-viewed World Cup match ever south of the border.
The game averaged 12,956,000 viewers.
The telecast ranks fifth all-time behind three World Cup finals, including the 1999 Women's World Cup Final, and the American round of 16 match against Brazil in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, all of which were televised on ABC.