The Women’s World Cup Was TV’s Most-Watched Show Amid Record-Breaking Viewership

Published 4 months ago
By Forbes | Mary Whitfill Roeloffs
South Africa v Italy: Group G – FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023
Sofia Cantore of Italy and Juventus and Nolufefe Mbane of South Africa and Mamelodi Sundowns compete for the ball during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group G match between South Africa and Italy at Wellington Regional Stadium on August 2, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


The U.S. women’s national team game against the Netherlands was last week’s most-watched show on television as it broke records for the highest-ever English language viewership of a group stage match in women’s FIFA World Cup history.


The match, which saw the two teams draw 1-1, was watched by 6.4 million people last Wednesday, Nielsen data shows, and is the second U.S. game from this year’s World Cup to score record viewership.

The Netherlands match was the most-watched ever in a group stage and the July 21 game, a 3-1 win over Vietnam, was watched by 5.3 million people, making it the third most-viewed group stage game in Women’s World Cup history behind the 2019 U.S. game against Chile in second place.


The game against the Netherlands was the most-watched broadcast show last week by almost 1 million viewers—CBS’s 60 Minutes saw 5.6 million viewers in second place, followed by Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent with 5.8 million watchers and Celebrity Family Feud, which drew 3.6 million.

Viewership numbers for the final group-stage match for the U.S., a game played against Portugal Monday, have not been released but likely won’t hold up to the others because of timing—the Portugal game aired at 3 a.m. ET as opposed to 11 p.m. and 9 p.m. for the Vietnamese and Netherlands matchups, respectively.


The next game. The 0-0 tie against Portugal allowed the U.S. team to finish second in Group E and narrowly advance. The team will play its first World Cup knockout stage game at 5 a.m. Sunday against Sweden. The World Cup is now down to its last 16 teams.

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The U.S. team has won the FIFA Women’s World Cup four times—more than any other country. The Americans are the current champions after winning the 2019 tournament in France and they also won the title in 2015 in a game that became the second most-watched soccer game in American history with 26.9 million viewers, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. No country has ever won three consecutive men’s or women’s World Cups and the feat is rare at the professional level in any sport. The last American team to do it was the Los Angeles Lakers, which won the NBA Championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Other teams include the Chicago Bulls from 1996 to 1998, New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000 and the WNBA’s Houston Comets, which won four championships from 1997 to 2000.


Fox News continued its domination in the cable sphere last week, Nielsen data shows, with nine of the 10 most-watched cable shows. All five episodes of the round-table talk show The Five were in the top 10, with Wednesday’s airing the most watched at 3.1 million viewers. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show was the only non-Fox show to break in—2.5 million people watched the Monday episode, ranking it ninth place. Fox News saw a 26% jump in ratings two weeks ago when it premiered its reshuffled lineup with Jesse Watters in the 8 p.m. spot once held by Tucker Carlson, and last week’s numbers show viewership has climbed even higher. Fox News averaged 1.84 million primetime viewers for the week of July 24, up from 1.81 million in the previous week.


Women’s World Cup Hits Record TV Viewership For Group Stage (Forbes)