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World Cup and NBA Boost ABC, ESPN and Univision

NEW YORK: Soccer and basketball are fueling TV ratings this month. Last Friday’s World Cup tie between the United States and Slovenia drew the most households viewing a soccer game in ESPN’s history. The 10 a.m. ET game was watched by 5.2 million people in more than 3.9 million U.S. homes, the network said. In terms of viewers, the game was the third-most watched behind the 2006 semifinal between Germany and Italy, and Germany’s defeat of the United States in the 2002 quarterfinals.

The June 12 draw between the United States and England pulled in 14.5 million viewers on ABC and on Univision, making it the most-watched World Cup telecast in the U.S., according to Nielsen. The series has averaged nearly 3 million viewers on ESPN and ABC through last Friday, a 70 percent increase over the 2006 coverage.

Last Thursday’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, fought to the finish by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, drew 28.2 million viewers for ABC. It was the most-watched NBA game in 12 years and the most-watched finals game for ABC. The series averaged 18.1 million viewers per game.

Online, the World Cup generated more than 3.4 million unique viewers for through June 18. Univision reported 14 million visits and 108 million page views through June 18 across its platforms. Univision said it has twice the online traffic generated by the 2006 World Cup. and generated 2.5 million hours of video through last Friday. Daily video consumption during live matches reached an average of one hour and 20 minutes. Unique streams reached more than 250,000 per day. Friday’s U.S.-Slovenia match reportedly brought down Univision’s servers at one point, TVByTheNumbers reported.

The next game for the United States is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time against Algeria. It will be carried on ESPN, ESPN HD, and ESPN Radio. ABC and ESPN 3D are carrying today’s match between Brazil and the Ivory Coast at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
-- Deborah D. McAdams

(Image of the U.S. soccer team from ESPN)