Women's World Cup final ratings surpass last year's men's final

The final was also a hit on social media, with the network touting 17.8 million views across various platforms.
Image: Fans celebrate after the United States defeated the Netherlands in the FIFA Women's World Cup in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 7, 2019.
Fans celebrate in Kansas City, Missouri, after the United States defeated the Netherlands in the FIFA Women's World Cup on July 7, 2019.Charlie Riedel / AP

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By Claire Atkinson

American television viewers turned out in large numbers to see if the U.S. women's national soccer team, led by Megan Rapinoe, could bring home the title of world champion.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup final Sunday, in which the United States beat the Netherlands 2-0, drew more than 14 million viewers, making it the most-watched soccer event in the U.S. since the 2015 women's final, according to a statement from Fox Sports, which cited data from media measurement company Nielsen.

Fox's TV broadcast drew just under 14 million viewers, with another 289,000 viewers streaming the game, according to Fox Sports. The match drew 22 percent more viewers than the Men’s World Cup final played between France and Croatia last year, according to Nielsen data.

The final was also a hit on social media, with the network touting 17.8 million views across various platforms, outpacing the 2018 men's final by 18 percent, Fox said in a press release.

While the ratings are a win for the U.S. women's team, the match didn't beat the last Women's World Cup final, where the U.S. beat Japan in Canada in 2015. That match drew 25 million viewers. The U.S. team also won on that occasion though the game was broadcast in prime time.

Sunday's match did, however, break a record for Telemundo, the NBCUniversal-owned Spanish-language channel. The company said it notched 1.6 million viewers, making the final the most watched women's World Cup match in Spanish-language history. The U.S. team also won on that occasion, though the game was broadcast in prime time.

NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.

With 27 percent of all U.S. households watching television at the time of the game tuning in to watch Sunday's game, the women's final is on a par with other major sporting events, and may give marketers some pause for thought as the sport continues to grow in popularity among men as well as women.

"The women players are champions on and off the field," said Shelley Zalis, chief executive officer of the Female Quotient, an organization that promotes gender equality in business. Advertisers should pay attention, she said, noting that the women's team is "producing more sales and higher ratings."

"When you look at these role models, they are champions for change, like the suffragettes.”

The win is another flashpoint in the fight for pay equality for women. Rapinoe, the team's captain, used the win to champion a new deal for women soccer players.

“Everyone’s asking what’s next and what we want to come from all of this — it’s to stop having conversation about equal pay and are we worth it,” she said.