By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
Fans of the United States women’s soccer team remained faithful viewers no matter what hour the game was on.
The Americans three group stage matches at the Women’s World Cup had an average combined English- and Spanish-language audience of 5,256,000.
Trying to replicate that over the next four matches will be a difficult task.
With its second-place finish in Group E, the remaining U.S. matches will take place overnight. Had the Americans won the group, its round of 16 and quarterfinal matches would have been in prime time.
Australia and New Zealand are 14-16 hours ahead of New York and 17-19 hours ahead of Los Angeles.
“We knew that there was no flexibility in making changes to the schedule for the knockout rounds. We had our eyes wide open going in,” Fox President, Head of Strategy and Analytics, Mike Mulvihill said. “FIFA was really helpful in setting up the schedule for the group state and getting us in position that if the U.S. had won the group, we would have had a couple more prime time exposures. But this is the risk you accept in a worldwide event like this. You can’t have total flexibility for the U.S. audience.”
The July 21 match against Vietnam (6.26 million) and July 26 vs. the Netherlands (7.93 million) were both in prime time and drew the two largest combined audiences for a group stage match involving the American women.
The July 31 draw against Portugal, which took place at 3 a.m. EDT, was 1,560,000.
Sunday’s match against Sweden begins at 5 a.m. EDT. Should the U.S. advance, the Aug. 11 match against Japan would take place at 3:30 a.m. EDT.
The Aug. 15 semifinals are at 4 a.m. EDT and the Aug. 20 final will start at 6 a.m. EDT.
Despite one of the matches taking place overnight, the overall U.S. group stage ratings increased.
Fox’s average of 4,345,000 was an 11% increase over four years ago, when the tournament took place in France.
The Spanish-language average of 911,000 is up 57% compared to 2019. Telemundo and Adobe Analytics found that streaming accounted for 40% of the viewership.
When it comes to the rest of the Women’s World Cup though, the tournament has struggled to maintain audiences due to the time difference,
Through 46 matches, the tournament is averaging 610,000 viewers on Fox and FS1, a 37% decrease from 2019 (968,000).
The Spanish-language average of 135,000 across Telemundo, Peacock, Universo and Telemundo streaming platforms is down 30% from four years ago (194,000).
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup