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Strong TV ratings for US-Brazil match

Posted by David Beard, Globe Staff  June 30, 2009 07:17 PM

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By David Beard, Globe Staff

Clint Dempsey and the U.S. national soccer team may have had a nightmarish second half against Brazil, but ESPN said the match scored its strongest ratings for a non-World Cup event.

The game was seen on ESPN by 3.945 million viewers in an average of 2.556 million television homes, based on a 2.6 rating, according to the network. The figure does not count those who watched the Spanish-language play-by-play on Univision.

The figure was smaller than several World Cup games broadcast of ESPN's sister network, ABC, which has a broader non-cable audience. The US-Italy match in the 2006 World Cup drew a 4.4 rating and a 6.7 million readers, said Aaron Lewis of Nielsen.

He said that an ESPN2 broadcast two days earlier in 2006 of the US-Czech Republic match drew a 1.9 rating and 2.6 million viewers.

Nielsen's Lewis, who watched Sunday's match with friends, and said the ratings augur well for ESPN's upgraded schedule of international soccer -- including the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga -- in the fall. ''ESPN certainly recognizes these opportunities,'' said Lewis.

On Sunday, Dempsey and Landon Donovan led the American squad to a first-half lead over the Brazilians, who roared back to win the FIFA Confederations Cup final 3-2 in South Africa. It was the first-ever FIFA final for the United States. The much-improved US squad is in the hunt for the top 32 spots to compete in the 2010 World Cup, also in South Africa.

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