Monday, July 14, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 7.14.14: World Cup won't get bigger ratings in 2018

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 8:24 AM

click to enlarge 20140623__soccer-fans-united-states_p1.jpg
As I write this, we don't know if the ratings in the U.S. for yesterday afternoon's World Cup final will exceed the 18.22 million who tuned into the U.S.-Portugal game from three weeks ago, but expectations among soccer aficionados is that it will have, considering the game aired on a late Sunday afternoon on ABC when there was no other major sporting event taking place (although Rays fans no doubt were watching David Price throw his eight-inning shutout).

(Update: The World Cup final on ABC brought in 17.34 million viewers, less than the U.S.-Portugal game. That number is being reported bigger in some stories, but that is including the American Univision audience).

Coupled with the fact that over 64,000 packed Century Link Stadium in Seattle last night to see their MLS soccer team defeat Portland, and hey, professional soccer has really finally broken through in the states, right?

Yeah, maybe. But for all the interest in a U.S. World Cup squad that won all of one game in the just concluded tournament, lots of observers believe the record-breaking ratings in the states had a lot to due with the fact that the games were held at the perfect time, usually airing at either 12 noon, 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. on the East Coast, as there was just a one-hour time difference from Brazil.

That will probably boost the U.S. TV ratings for the 2016 Summer Olympics, also to be hosted in Rio de Janeiro. 

But the 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, which is 8 hours ahead of U.S. East Coast prime time (remember the lack of live events to watch on NBC for this year's winter Sochi Olympics?). And Qatar hosts the 2022 World Cup, a 7-hour difference. So even if the excitement can get revved up once again, it's less conducive to offices hosting parties for their employees to watch the games, much less letting people get out of work early to see those 4 p.m. weekday games.

Maybe it's the wrong question to ask whether soccer could supersede hockey as America's fourth most popular sport (behind football, basketball and baseball). But isn't it natural to expect that the excitement could translate for games where you can see some of these U.S. players in action (like Clint Dempsey in Seattle)? Seems to me that's natural to ask, since I've been hearing since the 1970s that soccer would take over America. 

But instead I hear some observers tamping expectations down, saying it's more the equivalent to the excitement that Americans use to have (and sometimes still do) for swimming or track and field, which dominate the summer Olympics for two weeks, and then fall off the sporting map for another 3.5 years. 

And by the way, the actual game yesterday for this admitted "casual fan"?  Two ungodly boring hours, before it got legitimately exciting when Germany finally actually scored!

In other news...

Charlie Crist made an impromptu appearance at a black church in North Tampa on Saturday, where he tried to turn on his new base...…. Democrats continue to make an issue out of Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature's failure to expand Medicaid… Bill Nelson says one factor that has been overlooked regarding the current immigration crisis is the lack of funding for drug interdiction....and organizers for Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative, continue to spread the word about the measure all over the place, including bars in St. Petersburg.

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