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Just two 2013 college football games topped USA-Belgium ratings

Belgium v USA: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

Soccer in general and the United States men’s national team specifically captured the nation’s imagination like at no other point during its mini-run through the 2014 World Cup.

One example of that? The television ratings. Or, more to the point, the television ratings relative to college football.

The overnight Nielsen ratings for Tuesday’s USA-Belgium match — the good guys were knocked out and kept from just their second-ever quarterfinals appearance — was a 9.6. According to, it was the highest-rated World Cup game ever broadcast on ESPN. Additionally, the website wrote that “[t]he only World Cup matches to ever rate higher on English-language television were on ABC: a 12.8 for the 1994 final between Brazil and Italy and a 10.4 for USA-Brazil in that tournament’s second round.”

As points out, however, the USA-Belgium ratings were higher than all but two college football games during the 2013 season: the Auburn-Florida State BCS title game (14.8) and the Michigan State-Stanford Rose Bowl (10.2).

Other examples of this last United States World Cup game trumping college football ratings include the Alabama-Oklahoma Sugar Bowl (9.3) and the Auburn-Missouri SEC championship game (8.6). In the regular season, the ballyhooed Alabama-Texas A&M rematch (8.5) and the thrilling Alabama-Auburn Iron Bowl matchup (8.2) both lagged behind yesterday’s World Cup.

These ratings certainly don’t mean that soccer has surpassed college football in popularity. Far from it, in fact. It is, however, interesting to think about how long this surge in popularity will last — and if it will have any impact on college football by way of soccer siphoning off young talent, especially as concerns over the safety of the sport of football in general continues to grow.

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13 Responses to “Just two 2013 college football games topped USA-Belgium ratings”
  1. jimmy53 says: Jul 2, 2014 4:51 PM

    this is slightly skewed when you consider that it played at a time when there is absolutely zero competitive programming, sports or otherwise.

  2. wde2010 says: Jul 2, 2014 5:04 PM

    You are so right. You could choose the World Cup or Wimbelton.

  3. wde2010 says: Jul 2, 2014 5:07 PM

    My bad…. Wimbledon!

  4. thefiesty1 says: Jul 2, 2014 5:23 PM

    So, foreign sports will never overtake football.

  5. mogogo1 says: Jul 2, 2014 5:37 PM

    A once every few years event up against a sport where countless games compete against each other every Saturday all fall and winter? Great comparison.

  6. dmarado says: Jul 2, 2014 5:52 PM

    this is slightly skewed when you consider that it played at a time when there is absolutely zero competitive programming, sports or otherwise.


    You could also argue the opposite–that more people were available to watch football because it’s played on the weekend, or in the case of those bowl games, in primetime.

  7. musketmaniac says: Jul 2, 2014 6:05 PM

    Yea I haven’t read a `soccer is going to replace the Olympics` story yet..

  8. irishdodger says: Jul 2, 2014 7:23 PM

    I don’t have a problem w/ soccer but the fact is that America’s best athletes are choosing to play football, baseball, basketball or run track over soccer. When American athletes start choosing soccer first, the US will be more competitive and eventually dominate…but I don’t see that happening. Can you imagine athletes like Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant (in his prime), Johnny Manziel, Adrian Petersen, etc playing soccer?

  9. scarygamecocks says: Jul 2, 2014 7:55 PM

    It is a bit misleading in another way as well, that is that if you are going to compare soccer to college football, then wouldn’t you have to consider the total number of people watching college football, not just those watching ONE game? I understand that’s the case with the games specifically mentioned because they were post-season games, but if you are going to mention the number of people watching soccer compared to the regular season CFB games, then how many people were watching the other 4 games that were on at the same time as one of those regular season match-ups mentioned, or even different regional games at the same time?

  10. brutusbuckeye2011 says: Jul 2, 2014 8:07 PM

    It is very surprising that the ratings for any soccer game would exceed those of several high profile college matches. However, most of the college games were played in time slots that competed with other college games. Comparing a once every four year world wide event to a college game is similar to comparing an Olympic track and field event to the NCAA track and field championship.

  11. drummerhoff says: Jul 2, 2014 9:01 PM

    Regardless of the sport, How does a 4pm start on a Tuesday in July beat a weekend or holiday?

    We either have a bunch of people who don’t work, aren’t at work and/or are here illegally.

  12. onbucky96 says: Jul 3, 2014 8:45 AM

    I belive that our team lost! I belive that our fans are fake! I belive that soccer sucks!

  13. doctorlb says: Jul 5, 2014 7:12 PM

    It is ridiculous to compare a game between two colleges (where teams play 12-14 games/year and multiple games are on at the same time) to a single game between two nations, where they play a “tournament” once every four years.

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