It's official now: The U.S. women's national team's stirring comeback in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup from Germany now ranks at the third most-viewed telecast with the FIFA tourney.
ESPN's July 9 coverage of the U.S. victory over Brazil on penalty kicks netted a 2.3 household rating, 2.7 million households and 3.89 million watchers, according to Nielsen data. The matinee telecast in the States -- striker Abby Wambach headed in the equalizer during stoppage time of the extra session -- trails only the final of the 1999 Women's World Cup versus China , as the Brandi Chastain moment averaged an 11.4 rating and 17.98 million watchers on July 10 of that year -- as well as America's win over Brazil during that tournament's semifinal: a 2.9 rating and 4.92 million viewers on July 4 of that year..
Sunday's quarterfinal, which scored a 2.6 overnight, also delivered ESPN's largest audience for Women's World Cup since 1999. The previous audience high was U.S. vs. Colombia during Group C match in this year's event on Saturday, July 2, which was witnessed by 1.87 million people, based on a 1.2 rating and 1.38 million household impressions.
Through July 10, the first 28 matches of the Women's World Cup 2011 averaged a 0.5 U.S. rating on ESPN and ESPN2, a 150% jump from a 0.2 average for the 2007 event in China. Household impressions grew 148% to 617,000 from 249,000, while viewership expanded 200% to 804,000 from 268,000.
The top five local markets for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup to date: Baltimore (1.1), Washington, D.C. (1.0), San Diego (1.0), Cincinnati (1.0) and Greensboro, N.C. (1.0).
ESPN will conclude its coverage of the Women's World Cup with semifinal action pitting the U.S. versus France on July 13 at 11:30 p.m., followed by Sweden-Japan in the other semi at 2:15 p.m.
The third-place match will air on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. on Saturday July 16, with the final set for ESPN at 2 p.m. on Sunday July 17.