Ask most Americans to name the biggest sports leagues on American airwaves. They will likely list the Super Bowl, World Series, March Madness, and NBA Finals as the most popular. But according to the latest analysis from FOX Sports’ head of strategy and analytics, Americans watched the World Cup more than March Madness in 2022.
FOX Sports strategy and analytics guru Michael Mulvihill outlined some impressive numbers regarding the number of viewers at the 2022 World Cup in a . One of the revelations was that Americans watched the World Cup football more than March Madness, the annual college basketball tournament that captivates sports fans each spring.
More World Cup than March Madness? It’s true
“On English and Spanish networks, Americans spent more time watching the World Cup this year than March Madness,” Mulvihill said. “That’s not to diminish March Madness, but to show that the World Cup now more than holds its own compared to grassroots events in American sport.”
The 2022 tournament in Qatar was broadcast in the US on FOX in English plus Telemundo and Peacock in Spanish, and it was a record breaker. For example, the 2022 World Cup final was the most watched men’s World Cup match ever on English-language television in the United States.
The final between Argentina and France would turn out to attract more than 26 million total viewers in both English and Spanish, just short of the 27.3 million who signed up for the 2014 final, making it the second most watched game in American TV history.
The colossal domestic TV and streaming ratings for the 2022 World Cup leave no doubt that football is a bona fide part of American culture. Despite an unusual time of year for the tournament and overcrowded group stage matchdays with games starting at 5 a.m. Eastern Time, average English-language viewership was up 30% from 2018.
The return of the United States to the World Cup this time around certainly helped boost the ratings for FOX compared to 2018. The fact that arguably the biggest name in the game, Lionel Messi, went all the way and eventually won the final , probably didn’t. It also doesn’t hurt to attract additional viewers. But even after the USMNT was knocked out by the Netherlands in the round of 16, numbers remained strong, with a 48% increase in viewers from the end of the quarter-finals through to the final.
Mulvihill concluded: “Our focus now turns to the 2023 WWC, the 2024 Euro and the 2026 MWC in North America, which will shatter all American football viewing records. It’s a formidable lineup. To be the leader in the world’s top tournaments is clearly an enviable place to be.”
Image credit: Imago
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