American soccer fans have long endured idiotic sports writers who trash soccer on a regular basis trying to reinforce the idea that Americans hate soccer. But there is absolutely no excuse for dishonest reporting, no matter how often it happens. Steve Jones has an article out via Reuters that is just plain dishonest because it leaves out critical facts that are directly relevant to the point he is making.
If you look west from Germany these days you’ll see America stifling a yawn at the World Cup.
Despite a doubling of TV ratings for the first-round matches this month, before the U.S. squad failed miserably, soccer still ranks below televised poker tournaments in a land where baseball, basketball and American football rule.
To put it in context, ABC-TV’s average rating of 2.5 for the first eight matches it aired represents barely 8 million viewers in a nation of just under 300 million. Only 3.9 million Americans watched the 2002 World Cup final, out of 1.1 billion worldwide.
By comparison, nearly 91 million viewers watched this year’s Super Bowl, the glitzy climax to the season for America’s home-grown form of football. Nearly 39 million watched the Academy Awards, Hollywood’s big night, in March and 36 million tuned in for last month’s finale of "American Idol," a TV talent show.
And on ABC’s sports cable network, ESPN, which presumably attracts more serious sports fans, the World Cup has had even fewer viewers, averaging around 1.75 million on channels that reach 91 million homes.
Did I mention this is dishonest? Do you see Univision mentioned anywhere in this article?
Steve – in case your research missed it, the World Cup is being broadcast in the US simultaneously by TWO networks, ABC/ESPN and Univision. The other shows you compared the World Cup to are usually broadcast by a single network in the US. Oh and in case your research missed it, Univision has been averaging 1.5 times the viewership of ESPN. Also, many viewers have abandoned ESPN in favor of Univision because of complaints about the ESPN broadcast team. So if you want to compare ratings to other sporting events, not including Univision – which is the fifth largest US network, is just dishonest and invalidates any comparisons you try to make.
You also fail to mention the time of day these events were shown which is misleading. When was the last time the SuperBowl, Academy Awards, or most poker tournaments (first run – not rerun) have been broadcast live between 7AM and 10AM in the US? Never? But you write your article like you’re making an apples to apples comparison when it’s not even close. Funny, when you take into account ALL the ratings data, you find that the US v Ghana match had close to 10 million viewers in the US during the morning of a weekday compared to the 15 million who watched Game 6 of the NBA Finals in prime-time.
So quote all the soccer hating pundits you want. Talk about how soccer can’t compete with the Super Bowl. We’re used to that as US soccer fans. However, if you reference actual data to make a point, it is nothing short of dishonest to talk about US viewership ratings while excluding three-fifths of the actual viewers. I expect Reuters to post a correction to this article, but don’t hold your breath.
If you are an avid US soccer fan, soccer blogger, etc., it’s time for us to take some action against this instead of just complaining about it. I can assure you that once the World Cup ends, many articles will appear that include only ESPN ratings and not Univision’s and talk about how nobody watched the World Cup. If you come across this, write to both the reporter and editors and point out politely that they made a serious mistake. We have to clue them in that any comparison where you exclude 3/5ths of the viewers is just wrong. Many news outlets will include the reporter’s email address in articles (Reuters does not, unfortunately). But you can contact the editors. I’m drafting my complaint right now. Remember – be polite and to the point. It may accomplish nothing, but if enough of us complain – they WILL notice.