The FIFA World Cup men’s soccer match between England and the USA on Friday (November 25) generated bumper TV audiences in both countries.
In the US, the 0-0 draw, the second match in the competition for each team, was watched by an average of 19.9 million combined across the Fox Sports English-language channel, the Telemundo Deportes Spanish-language network, and the Peacock streaming platform run by NBC.
In the UK, commercial free-to-air network ITV brought in an average viewing figure of 18 million and a peak of 15.1 million.
These figures will almost certainly be the highest each country has recorded so far during the World Cup (with not all numbers having been made public). The tournament in Qatar kicked off in November 20 and concludes on December 18.
The US’ first fixture at Qatar 2022, against Wales last Monday (November 21), was watched by a combined average figure of 11.7 million across the same aforementioned three platforms, while England’s first group game of the tournament versus Iran brought in a peak of only eight million.
That fixture was broadcast by the public service BBC, which is splitting rights to the tournament’s 64 fixtures and to England’s games with ITV through a deal struck in 2014.
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Fox Sports has declared that its viewership figure for England-USA of 15.37 million made the encounter the most-watched men's soccer match ever on US English-language television.
Telemundo, the Spanish-language version of NBC, has said its 4.6-million figure represents the second-highest for a US group stage game in Spanish-language history.
Awful Announcing has reported that the Fox claim takes into account the entire length of the broadcast, as opposed to a simple ‘whistle-to-whistle’ figure, which is what previous historical viewing figures have been based on.
Fox has also claimed a peak audience for the game during a 15-minute stretch deep into the match’s second half of 19.6 million.
The USA's third and final group stage fixture is on Tuesday (November 29) against Iran. It is unlikely that the audience for that will hit the heights of Friday's game, which took place the day after the US national holiday of Thanksgiving, with many people taking Friday off to create a four-day weekend. The game will also kick off at 10PM local time, which is 2PM ET in the US.
Fox and Telemundo snapped up World Cup rights for 2018 and 2022 in October 2011.
England’s final group game, against neighbors Wales, takes place at the same time as USA-Iran, which in the UK means a 7PM kickoff and another likely sizeable audience given the prime time slot.
If both teams qualify – England are highly likely to do so and the US will join them by winning against Iran – they will play their round-of-16 games next weekend on December 3 and 4.
ITV has said that its figures for Friday’s clash mean the program is ITV1’s most-viewed program of the year, and have helped contribute to its largest Friday in terms of live viewership in a decade.
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