By Anthony Crupi

At some point during the U.S. women’s soccer team’s 13-0 demolition of Thailand, perhaps in the interval between Alex Morgan’s third and fourth goal, it became apparent that Fox was going to have a hard time keeping viewers from straying. The ruthlessness with which the Americans took apart their overwhelmed opponents was such that even diehard soccer fans could be forgiven for looking elsewhere for a fairer fight—say, Indiana Jones vs. the fancy guy with the sword in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or Sonny Corleone taking on Carlo Rizzi in “The Godfather.”

If the USWNT in their first match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup all but chased viewers away from their TV sets—up 3-0 at the break, the defending champs would score another four goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half alone—the rout didn’t put an enormous dent in Fox’s ratings. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the two-hour broadcast averaged 2.63 million viewers and a 1.7 household rating, down 21 percent and 15 percent, respectively, compared to the analogous USA-Australia match in 2015. That group stage meeting between the U.S. and the Matildas averaged 3.31 million viewers and a 2.0 rating on the Fox cable channel FS1.

Fox streaming platforms on Tuesday added another 172,000 viewers to its linear TV average.

Through the first five days of the tournament, Fox’s metered-market ratings are up 6 percent compared to 2015. Along with USA-Thailand, three other matches have scared up 1 million viewers or more: Spain-South Africa, Norway-Nigeria and England-Scotland.

The superabundance of scoring aside, time zones and time slots arguably played the biggest role in Tuesday’s ratings squeeze. This year’s opener kicked off at 3 p.m. EDT, or 9 p.m. local time in Reims, France, while the 2015 match from Winnipeg began at 7:08 p.m. EDT, which means that half the game aired in primetime on the east coast. One of six Canadian cities to play host to the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Winnipeg is situated more or less at the longitudinal center of North America.

While the ratings for Fox’s first USWNT showdown didn’t match up to the network’s 2015 deliveries, the number of Spanish-speaking viewers soared. Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of the USA-Thailand match averaged 444,000 viewers, more than doubling Universo’s draw of 203,000 viewers four years ago, and setting a record as the most-watched Women’s World Cup group stage match in Spanish-language TV history.

As one Twitter wag noted, Telemundo’s coverage of the U.S.-Thailand massacre featured a full 2.5 minutes of broadcaster Andres Cantor’s justly famous “GOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLL!!!” call.

Team USA’s next match pits it against Chile on Sunday afternoon. The squad faces its most formidable foe of group stage play on June 20 when it takes on Sweden. Should the USWNT win the group, it will likely face Spain in the round of 16; projecting even further ahead, the lethal host team could pose a significant threat to the title defense in the quarterfinals.

However things shake out, some commentators are already scrambling to cast the USWNT as the presiding …read more

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