20 million watch final USA World Cup match

July 2, 2014: 6:54 PM ET
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The popularity of soccer on TV underscores the sport's growing popularity among Americans.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

USA-Belgium, what turned out to be the last American match in the 2014 World Cup, was watched by upwards of 20 million viewers at home and countless more at watch parties in stadiums and other public places across the country.

Nielsen ratings released on Wednesday showed that ESPN's telecast of the match averaged 16.5 million viewers in the United States, which was second only to the USA-Portugal match on June 22. That earlier match holds the distinction of being the most-watched men's soccer match in the United States ever.

Univision's Spanish-language telecast of USA-Belgium averaged 5.1 million viewers.

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The viewership totals are incomplete because Nielsen does not measure any viewing at bars, restaurants, offices, or other out-of-home locations.

The totals are impressive nonetheless, and they reflect soccer's growing popularity among the American people.

Online streaming also adds to the totals. ESPN said that its live stream via the WatchESPN app averaged 1.1 million viewers during the match. "WatchESPN also averaged 3,500,000 unique viewers and 190,200,000 minutes viewed during the match, both records for the platform," the network said in a press release.

World Cup beats Olympics in live streaming

Overall, the 56 World Cup broadcasts to date on ESPN and its sibling channels have averaged 4.1 million viewers a piece, up 44 percent from the 2010 cup and up 122 percent from the 2006 cup, the network said.