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USMNT TV ratings in 2021 steady compared to 2019

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Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Much like attendance, the USMNT TV ratings in 2021 gauge the popularity and growth of soccer in the country.

Ratings for the Premier League and the Champions League grew over recent years. Consequently, soccer found its niche in the diverse American sporting landscape.

However, the USMNT TV ratings always seemed to fluctuate depending on a variety of factors. That is, unsurprisingly, things such as team form, opponent, the competition among other things.

As was the case with crowds at games, TV ratings for the US were almost non-existent in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly hampered the consistency and availability of games. Then, 2021 saw viewers start to tune back in as the US started to rack up the wins and accumulate some hardware. As you see below, it is important to account for English- and Spanish-language coverage of the team. The diversity of the nation is not catered to by just one language.

USMNT TV Ratings in 2021

Friendlies

Friendlies come throughout the year, with the bulk of these coming at the start. The USMNT wrapped up its 2022 schedule in December against Bosnia & Herzegovina ahead of World Cup Qualifying in January.

Spanish-language viewing figures for the friendlies against Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and Switzerland are unavailable.

Here is how the USMNT TV rating in 2021 stacked up for friendlies

Opponent English TV Channel English TV Audience Spanish TV Channel Spanish TV Audience Total Audience
Trinidad & Tobago FS1 258,000 258,000
Jamaica ESPN2 267,000 267,000
Northern Ireland FOX 835,000 TUDN 123,000 958,000
Switzerland ESPN2 476,000 476,000
Costa Rica ESPN2 355,000 TUDN 120,000 475,000
Bosnia & Herzegovina FS1 216,000 TUDN 106,000 322,000
Nations League

The English-language rights to the CONCACAF Nations League belonged to CBS. With games airing on CBS Sports, Nielsen does not report these numbers. Therefore, only the Spanish-language audience is available.

Opponent English TV Channel English TV Audience Spanish TV Channel Spanish TV Audience Total Audience
Honduras CBS Sports Univision 1,300,000 1,300,000
Mexico CBS Sports Univision 4,200,000 4,200,000
Gold Cup

The Gold Cup is a biennial event that regularly sees the USMNT advance far. This year, a young USMNT roster won in a dramatic final against Mexico.

Opponent English TV Channel English TV Audience Spanish TV Channel Spanish TV Audience Total Audience
Haiti FS1 719,000 Univision 1,300,000 2,019,000
Martinique FS1 747,000 TUDN 266,000 1,013,000
Canada FOX 1,400,000 TUDN 327,000 1,727,000
Jamaica FS1 705,000 Univision 1,529,000 2,234,000
Qatar FS1 863,000 TUDN 365,000 1,228,000
Mexico FS1 1,751,000 Univision 5,700,000 7,450,000
World Cup Qualifying

In the same fashion as the CONCACAF Nations League, CBS holds the rights to select games in World Cup Qualifying. With the development of streaming, these games aired exclusively on Paramount+. In fact, these are all the road games for the USMNT.

ESPN and FOX split the coverage of the home games, with viewership numbers below.

Opponent English TV Channel English TV Audience Spanish TV Channel Spanish TV Audience Total Audience
@ El Salvador Paramount+ Universo 246,000 246,000
Canada FS1 776,000 UniMas 834,000 1,610,000
@ Honduras Paramount+ Universo 270,000 270,000
Jamaica ESPN2 596,000 TUDN 192,000 788,000
@ Panama Paramount+ Universo 195,000 195,000
Costa Rica ESPN2 651,000 TUDN 249,000 900,000
Mexico ESPN2 1,315,000 Univision 2,645,000 3,960,000
@ Jamaica Paramount+ Universo 200,000 200,000

Breaking down the numbers

Many of these comparisons go against the previous year to see development. Based on the state of the world in 2020, that may not be fair. Therefore, comparisons to 2019 may seem more applicable to gauge the sport, and the USMNT’s, improvement of fallbacks.

In 2021, the USMNT averaged 745,625 viewers per game on English-language TV. This number represents an increase of 294% compared to 2020. However, that year, the USMNT played just three games, pulling in 189,333 viewers per game. More accurately, it marks a 1% increase of the ratings for 2019. That year, the US played 18 games on English TV. Additionally, this is the highest average since 2017, also the year before a World Cup. In 2017, the USMNT TV ratings averaged 819,842 throughout its 19 games.

For Spanish-language TV, an average of 1,061,421 viewers tuned in to the USMNT games this year. This is an astounding increase of 378% over a two-game average of 222,000 in 2020. But, again, the better comparison would be to 2019. This past year’s average Spanish viewership was an increase of 8% over an 18-game average of 981,556 back in 2019. And, just like the English viewing figures, 2021 was the best year for the USMNT on Spanish TV since 2017. An average of 1,138,579 watched the 19 games in that year.

At the end of the year, the total combined audience came out to 32,096,000. Over the 22 games, the average English- and Spanish-language audience came out to 1,528,381. On one hand, this is a stark 504% increase in average viewership compared to 2020. However, it is a surprising dip of 18% when compared to the average of 1,858,556 in 2019.

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