USA-Belgium Loss Was ESPN’s Most-Watched World Cup Game Ever

USA Soccer World CupTeam USA’s heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday was disappointing for many American fans.

For the ratings department at ESPN, however, the game was a massive success.

Tuesday afternoon’s contest drew a 9.6 national rating on ESPN, making it the most-watched World Cup game in the sports network’s history. The only World Cup game to draw a higher rating within the Disney broadcasting family was ABC’s broadcast of USA-Brazil in the Round of 16 at the 1994 World Cup, which drew a 10.4 rating.

Team USA has drawn an enormous television following at this year’s World Cup, as the team’s 2-2 draw with Portugal in the group stage drew 18.2 million viewers on ESPN to make it the most-watched World Cup game in American history at the time.

New York topped the list of local markets for USA-Belgium with a 15.0 rating, while Boston came in strong as the market with the fifth-highest local rating at 12.2.

With the U.S. finally eliminated from this year’s World Cup, ESPN is likely to see a drop in ratings as many casual fans lose interest. Yet the impressive ratings produced by Team USA in all four of its World Cup games this year suggest that soccer might be more than just a blip on America’s sports radar.

Photo via Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports Images