John Brooks’s header into the back of the net in the 86th minute enabled the U.S. to top World Cup nemesis Ghana and helped ESPN score a record soccer audience.
ESPN’s June 16 telecast of Sam’s Army’s 2-1 win over the Black Stars averaged a 6.3 rating and nearly 11.1 million viewers to rank as the most-watched men’s futbol game in ESPN history.
The telecast of America’s Group G opener was off only 14% from the almost 13 million, who saw ABC’s coverage of the team’s first-match draw against England on Saturday, June 12 in 2010, during the FIFA World Cup from South Africa.
Ghana eliminated the U.S. from FIFA's famed futbol tourney in 2006 and 2010.
Monday’s telecast ranks as ESPN’s second biggest soccer audience to date – the worldwide leader netted a 7.4 rating and 13.46 million watchers with its July 17, 2011 coverage of Japan's penalty kick shootout triumph over the U.S. during the final of the Women’s World Cup.
The game also stands as ESPN’s second-largest telecast to date in 2014, albeit well behind only the 25.6 million who tuned in Florida’s thrilling win over Auburn in January’s BCS Championship game.
The match also resulted in record local ratings in 16 different markets, including New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.
Through the first 14 games, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC have averaged a 2.5 rating 4.1 million viewers with the 2014 World Cup, up 19% and 23%, respectively, from a 2.1 and 3.3 million watchers through the same stage of the 2010 event in South Africa.
The U.S.-Ghana match also garnered a 469,000 average minute audience on WatchESPN, which set a product record for an event which had a total of 1.4 million viewers and 62.4 million of minutes viewing consumption.
Next up for the U.S. men’s national team, which paid a price for its triumph as strikers Jozy Altidore captain Clint Dempsey, who scored 34 seconds in against Ghana, sustained a strained hamstring and broken nose, respectively,: Portugal on Sunday, June 22 at 6 p.m. on ESPN.