Aug 3, 2023 - Sports

U.S. national team breaking viewership records for Women's World Cup

U.S. player Alex Morgan advances the ball during the FIFA Women's World Cup match against Portugal on Aug. 1. Photo: Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images

Audience numbers for the U.S. women's national soccer team's three games in the World Cup's opening stage are breaking records, rising 11% over similar games four years ago.

Why it matters: Viewership is skyrocketing even though USWNT barely squeaked into the knockout stage, indicating surging interest in women's sports .

  • The audience boost is also a sign that the team's popularity is catching up with its elite status as four-time World Cup champions.

By the numbers: The USWNT's 3-0 opening game win over Vietnam on July 21 averaged 5.26 million viewers — a 99% increase from the team's opening match in 2019, according to Fox Sports.

  • Its second group stage match against the Netherlands on July 26 drew 6.43 million viewers, a 21% increase over four years ago, according to Fox Sports. It set the record for a Women's World Cup group-stage match on English-language television in the U.S.
  • On Tuesday, USWNT advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup after a 0-0 draw with Portugal, with 1.35 million viewers tuning in — despite the fact that it aired at 3am ET.
  • The group stage matches averaged 4.35 million viewers, a record in the U.S., according to Fox Sports.

Between the lines: Viewership numbers have risen significantly even though U.S. audiences are contending with a more burdensome time difference in this year's tournament in Australia and New Zealand, with many games airing in the middle of the night.

  • During the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, U.S. audiences were able to watch live matches during regular waking hours.

The big picture: The global popularity of women's soccer has also been surging. A FIFA benchmarking report on women's soccer from October noted that it has seen growing commercial and broadcast revenues from sponsorships, merchandising and broadcast deals.

  • FIFA has also increased the prize pool money for this year's Women's World Cup to $110 million, nearly quadruple the $30 million it offered in 2019.

Yes, but: Women's soccer remains undervalued compared to its counterpart.

Zoom out: Women's soccer joins a slew of other women's sports teams in the U.S. that have enjoyed soaring popularity in recent years.

  • The women's NCAA March Madness tournament earlier this year saw viewership jump 42% from last season.
  • The WNBA has seen a 67% increase in viewership for nationally televised games since last season, as well as increased attendance and revenue growth from sponsorships and merchandise.

What to watch: The USWNT's next match will take place Sunday at 5am ET.

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