Thursday September 28, 2023

Fox’s Audience Drops 21% For USWNT’s World Cup Exit

  • Team USA’s loss to Sweden averaged 2.52M viewers.
  • Game's early 5 a.m. ET start on Sunday impacted numbers.
Sweden knocks out the US and TV ratings.
Credit: Jenna Watson-USA TODAY Sports
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These TV numbers will only rub salt into Fox Sports’ 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup wounds.

Fox’s coverage of the USWNT’s Round of 16 loss to Sweden averaged 2.52 million viewers on Sunday morning.

That’s down 21% from the 3,196,000 average for FS1’s telecast of the USWNT’s Round of 16 victory over Spain in 2019.

What happened?

Blame it on timing. Plus, the USWNT’s dismal performance in the prior Group Stage.

Fox telecast of Sweden’s penalty kicks victory over the U.S. began at 5 a.m. ET. 

Sure, plenty of people set their alarm clocks early on the East Coast – or rose in the middle of the night on the West Coast – to watch the match. 

But not enough. Especially compared to the match window for the comparable match four years ago from France, which began at 11:39 a.m. ET. Now Fox faces the prospect of televising the rest of the tournament without its biggest TV draw.

What makes matters worse is that if the favored USWNT had won their Group Stage as expected, their games would have aired in ratings-friendly prime-time windows in the U.S.

Instead, Team USA went out early with a whimper.

All Fox can do is dream about what might have been if the favored USWNT had pulled off a historic three-peat.

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Still, despite two of their four match windows airing either overnight or early morning, Fox projects the USWNT’s matches will end up averaging 3,795,000 viewers, up 2% from 3,726,000 for the comparable four matches in 2019.

Fox’s lead analyst Alexi Lalas called USWNT’s ignominious departure a “failure of historic proportions.”

Said Lalas: “This U.S. team has never finished worse than third in a World Cup, so obviously going out in the Round of 16 is not good. And when I look at the previous versions of this team that won the World Cup in 2015, in 2019, this is the weakest of the three, and so ultimately, they just weren’t good enough. The way they did it was commendable, but still, the damage was done early on.”

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