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FIFA hails ‘milestone’ ESPN rating for US-Portugal

RIO DE JANEIRO — FIFA has hailed the TV rating in the United States for the World Cup match between the Americans and Portugal as a milestone for the sport.

The 24.7 million television viewers were “spectacular figures” for a group-stage match, FIFA’s director of television Niclas Ericson said Tuesday.

ESPN got 18.2 million viewers for the 2-2 draw on Sunday, and 6.5 million more watched on Spanish-language network Univision.

Ericson said the ESPN rating beats the average for the five NBA finals games this month and the six World Series games last October.

“We see it as an important milestone in the audience history of soccer in the U.S.,” the FIFA official said.

The Americans next play Germany at 1200 EDT on Thursday, needing to avoid defeat to reach the last-16 round.

Though Fox drew 19.2 million for the Boston Red Sox’s Game Six clincher against the St. Louis Cardinals, the 2013 World Series averaged 15.0 million, FIFA said.

Fox has the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after agreeing a $425 million deal with FIFA in October 2011. Telemundo paid $600 million for Spanish rights in the U.S. for the two tournaments.

ESPN paid $100 million for the 2010-2014 package and Univision paid $325 million, making the U.S. the most valuable single territory in terms of TV rights for soccer’s international governing body.

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