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World Cup Soccer Raises Bar for Live-Sports Streaming

2 Jul, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The U.S. might be out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, but viewers continue to watch the quadrennial event in record numbers across multiple platforms.

As expected, ESPN July 2 said the overnight ratings on Team USA’s 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time was the highest ever for a soccer broadcast on the sports channel and ESPN2. WatchESPN, which allowed subscribers to watch the match live online, generated 1.5 million concurrent viewers.

Notably, the match still ranks third behind the 1994 World Cup final and that year's U.S. vs. Brazil knockout round match, which both included ABC network coverage and took place in Los Angeles.

Comcast reported that live streaming of the 2014 World Cup has already surpassed the Sochi Olympics. While the Olympics saw 7.8 million live steams from Xfinity TV customers, there have already been 9.2 million live streams of World Cup action online or on devices from customers through the first 18 days of competition.

There were 683,000 live streams of the U.S. vs. Germany match either directly through Xfinity TV Go or via WatchESPN. This has been the biggest live streaming event ever for Xfinity TV; surpassing the top streamed event of Sochi, the U.S. vs. Canada men’s hockey semifinal, by 63%.

Meanwhile, in a social media analysis conducted by online marketing firm Prime Visibility, the U.S. vs. Belgium game was the third most-talked-about World Cup game thus far, just below Brazil’s matches against Croatia and Chile. The U.S. game garnered more than 15 million social media posts with a combined Twitter reach of 1.6 billion users.

While the game ranked lower than the Super Bowl in terms of total social media mentions, the World Cup overall has been higher than the Super Bowl. The World Cup, which begins quarterfinal play July 4, ends July 13.

“Americans have demonstrated a very high amount of interest in the event, especially for a nation not known to care about soccer,” Dave Neuman, social media manager at Prime Visibility, wrote in a blog.


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