By Francesca Duffy
The 2016 Copa America Centenario tournament, a soccer tournament held in 10 different cities across the United States this past month, drew in a record-breaking number of TV viewers. This, the 100th anniversary of the world’s oldest international soccer tournament, took place for the first time outside of South America. For a country long known to lag behind many others in its intensity of soccer fandom, this engagement over several different platforms for both Spanish and English programmers was impressive and indicative of both how we watch sports and how Americans are increasingly falling in love with international soccer.
According to Nielsen, the tournament overall outperformed the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament on Univision Deportes, reaching 47.7 million viewers and with the final game–which took place this past Sunday–averaging 6.8 million viewers. The Chile and Argentina face-off became the network’s most-viewed men’s soccer match since the 2014 FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. Fox’s FS1 also averaged 2.9 million viewers and peaked at 3.7 million during the Copa America final, which ended with Chile as the victor during the penalty-kicks round. This means that overall, the Copa America final brought in around 10 million viewers across the U.S.
The USA consolation match against Colombia also broke the record for the most-viewed Copa America 3rd place match on Univision, averaging 2.8 million viewers.
For FS1, the Argentina-U.S. semifinal last week was the most-watched men’s soccer game in the network’s history with 3.29 million viewers. A few of the games even set new records on FS1 for the most-watched men’s soccer matches that did not include the U.S. men’s national team, with the final getting the most of those views. The tournament produced four out of five of the most-watched soccer games in history for FS1.
TV Everywhere services also performed very well. Univision reported delivering over 2.3 million live streams for 54 million minutes watched, with 89 percent of all live streams coming from the Univision Deportes App. Fox Sports Go also announced the Copa tournament as the highest-performing event in its history, even topping the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The final between Argentina and Chile out-performed Game 1 of the 2015 World Series, with more than 11.6 million minutes streamed.
Viewership numbers gained momentum over the course of the tournament and never stopped. Huge audiences gathered to watch the games on TV or stream them live. Whether it was the USA men’s team’s invitation to participate in the tournament this year, Copa America taking place within the U.S., or heightened interest in soccer since the 2014 World Cup, more viewers tuned in to watch the tournament than ever before–indicative of the kind of engagement levels for international soccer we might continue to see in the U.S.
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