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Women's World Cup a TV hit

Japanese players celebrate with the trophy after winning

Japanese players celebrate with the trophy after winning the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women's World Cup. (July 17, 2011) Credit: AP

Sunday's riveting Women's World Cup final on ESPN averaged 8.6 percent of homes in major markets, which means when the final national numbers come in later Monday, it is certain to become by far the second-highest-rated WWC game ever on U.S. TV.

The top spot will continue to be held by the 1999 final, but that game was played on American soil at the Rose Bowl and was shown on ABC, a broadcast channel, both of which are ratings advantages.

Baltimore's 12.3 rating topped the 56 major markets; New York was 33rd with an 8.6, exactly matching the national average.

By any measure, the 2011 tournament in general and the U.S. women in particular were huge television successes.

And ESPN deserves credit for chronicling it all thoroughly and with a relative minimum U.S. flag-waving.

The whole world is watching

The six most-watched soccer games in English-language U.S. television history, all from World Cups:

July 10, 1999 USA vs. China, women’s final ABC 17.975
July 11, 2010 Netherlands vs. Spain, men’s final ABC 15.905
June 26, 2010 USA vs. Ghana, men’s round of 16 ABC 15.193
July 17, 1994 Italy vs. Brazil, men’s final ABC 14.510
July 4, 1994 Brazil vs. USA, men’s round of 16 ABC 13.694
July 17, 2011 USA vs. Japan, women’s final ESPN 13.458

* in millions


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