By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
Argentina’s dramatic victory over France in penalty kicks in the World Cup final was the second most-watched soccer match of any kind in the United States.
The early numbers from Nielsen, Fox and Telemundo show Sunday’s match had an English- and Spanish-language combined audience of 25,783,000.
That trails the 26.7 million that tuned in to the 2015 Women’s World Cup final, when the U.S. beat Japan 5-2 in a match that aired in prime time for most of the United States because the tournament was held in Canada.
Fox’s numbers from Sunday should increase when the “match-only” rating is released later Tuesday. The 16,783,000 average released by Fox and Nielsen includes some pre- and post-match coverage.
The high viewership comes as the U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to host the 2026 World Cup.
Argentina’s first World Cup title since 1986 was Fox’s most-watched match of the tournament, surpassing the 15,491,000 that watched the Americans 0-0 draw with England during group-stage play on Nov. 25.
Sunday’s combined audience was a 31% increase over the 2018 final, which averaged 17.83 million on Fox and Telemundo. Fox’s audience increased 25.5% from four years ago, when France defeated Croatia in the final.
Telemundo’s total audience of 9 million is a 65% jump from 2018. Nearly one-third — 2.96 million — streamed Sunday’s match on Peacock and Telemundo’s digital services, which made it the most-streamed World Cup match in U.S. history, regardless of language.
By comparison, the 6.04 million who watched on Telemundo was triple the 1.9 million that watched the network’s broadcast of Super Bowl 57 earlier this year.
While the Super Bowl continues to lead championship viewing — this year’s game had a combined audience of 112.3 million — the World Cup final did outdraw other sports. Game 5 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros averaged 12.77 million on Fox, and was the most-viewed game of the six-game series. The series-clinching games of the NBA Finals and NHL’s Stanley Cup finals averaged 13.99 million and 5.8 million, respectively, on ABC.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.