US game draws record viewers
Los Angeles - More than 19 million people watched the United States v Ghana World Cup soccer match on television in the US, making Saturday's game the most-watched soccer game in the country's history, according to figures released on Monday.
The Nielsen Company said a record 19.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the match live on two networks, underlining the rising popularity of soccer in the United States.
Ghana beat the US team 2-1 after extra time to advance to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Africa, eliminating the US in the second round of the tournament.
"This record viewership proves that soccer is as popular as it's ever been in the United States," said Stephen Master, vice-president of sports at The Nielsen Company.
"Between the rise of social networking and virtually unlimited access to the sport no matter where it's played in the world, this is the perfect environment for the game of soccer to thrive in the US", he said.
The TV audience for the United States-Ghana match surpassed the 18.1 million record set by the Italy-Brazil World Cup final in 1994.
Soccer is dwarfed as a spectator sport in the United States by football, baseball and basketball. Some 106.5 million American TV viewers watched the National Football League's Super Bowl championship in February, making it the most-watched US telecast ever in any genre.