Sky New Zealand, the pay-TV broadcaster, attracted a record audience of 2.2 million for soccer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup which the country co-hosted with Australia.

The tournament drew huge audiences on both sides of the Tasman with record numbers watching on TV and attending the 64 matches.

New Zealand’s 1-0 win over Norway in the World Cup opener was watched by 900,000 viewers, while more than 1 million watched the team’s crucial Group A game against Switzerland across Sky Sport and Sky Open (formerly Prime) – the highest viewership recorded in the country during the competition.

However, despite the massive local interest, New Zealand were eliminated in the group stages for the sixth time in six World Cup appearances.

Interest levels remained high in the country for the remainder of the tournament with the 2.2 million viewing figure surpassing the 1.9 million that watched New Zealand win the Women’s Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games (also 1.9 million) last year. Half of the viewers (1.1 million) were female.

Sky also posted record viewership numbers on its streaming platforms, Sky Go and Sky Sport Now, during the month-long tournament, which ended on Sunday (August 20) when Spain beat England 1-0 in Sydney to be crowned WWC champions for the first time.

Meanwhile, in the US, overall viewership for the World Cup dropped 60% from the previous edition in 2019 after the country’s earlier-than-expected departure.

English-language coverage averaged 669,000 viewers across national network Fox and its FS1 channel, down from 1.66 million in 2019.

Sunday’s final averaged 1.66 million, down 88% from the final between the US and Netherlands (13.98 million).

The US were knocked out at the round of 16 stage by Sweden, after a penalty shootout.

The final also averaged 401,000 viewers on Spanish-language TV on Telemundo and Universo, a drop of 75% (1.6 million). However, the combined viewership of more than 2 million still made it the most-watched Women’s World Cup final on US TV that did not feature the home nation.

Although this represented a significant increase over the last time that a final did not feature the US – the 2007 match between Germany and Brazil in China which averaged 664,000 on ESPN2 – it was much lower than the last three finals, which exceeded 13 million.

Indeed, the 2019 final had a combined audience average of 16.9 million on Fox and Telemundo.

As well as the US’ early exit, the early start times because of the time difference contributed to the huge declines in viewership. Most matches began in the early hours of the morning, or even very late at night for US West Coast viewers.

The entire 2023 tournament averaged 167,000 across Telemundo and Universo, down 44% from 2019 (301,000).

Fox and Telemundo were the US' WWC broadcasters through a deal originally struck in 2015.