U.S.-Ghana World Cup soccer match sets records for ESPN, Univision

Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:53pm EDT

Aron Johannsson of the U.S. (C) celebrates defeating Ghana in their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Aron Johannsson of the U.S. (C) celebrates defeating Ghana in their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal June 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

(Reuters) - More than 11 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch the United States beat Ghana during a World Cup soccer match on Monday, setting a new record for soccer viewership on ESPN, according to Nielsen.

The game was the highest-rated men's soccer match for the sports cable network, owned by Walt Disney. The Watch ESPN app, meanwhile, garnered its largest-ever audience, with 1.4 million viewers streaming the match.

The game also set a record at Univision, the Spanish-language broadcast network, attracting 4.8 million people, which made it the most-viewed U.S. World Cup match in the network's history.

The U.S.-Ghana game was the most viewed program on ESPN since Jan. 6, when college football's BCS National Championship pulled in 26.6 million viewers.

On Monday, the U.S. beat Ghana by a score of 2-1, snapping an eight-year losing streak against the West African country, which knocked the United States out of the past two World Cup tournaments.

The United States next plays on Sunday when they take on Portugal in the Amazon city of Manaus.

While the sport of soccer has been gaining ground in the United States, it is still does not reach the level of television viewership for some other sports.

For example, the National Football League's annual Super Bowl drew in more than 111 million U.S. viewers this year.

Brad Adgate, senior vice president at Horizon Media, said the number of people watching the U.S.-Ghana match in the United States for both networks was probably higher given the throngs that flocked to bars and restaurants that were not likely taken into account.

"It's a respectable number," Adgate said about the number of viewers. "It's growing in the right direction."

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York, editing by G Crosse)