You've seen the outpouring of reactions on social media and the clips of packed public viewing parties nationwide: America is falling in love with this FIFA World Cup. Specifically, so too is Columbus – the Crew's viewing parties at Fadó Irish Pub, presented by Budweiser and Pepsi have created fantastic atmospheres for both of the United States' two matches thus far, creating scenes reminiscent of any you've seen across the country.
Here's the really telling element: that viewership does not count towards aggregated Nielsen television ratings, and Columbus has been a standout in that regard. The home of the Crew was the fifth-highest city in the country for USA-Ghana with an 8.9 rating, which was described as a "TV ratings hit" by Forbes. This city followed that feat by ranking second nationally for USA-Portugal with a 12.6 household rating in a match that drew seven million additional viewers nationwide and was also the highest-rated FIFA World Cup match ever on ESPN.
"Columbus is proving again to be the spiritual home, if not the home of U.S. Soccer," said Mike Malo, Crew Sr. Vice President of Sales & Marketing. "It really points to the maturity of the market as a soccer market, and in particular, its appreciation for the world's game at the highest level – the World Cup – and the U.S.' run right now.
"You combine that with the tremendous viewing parties we've had at Fadó – what a great experience those have been – and something feels special right now with the World Cup, the U.S. and Columbus. There's this connection that no other city in the country has."
The Nielsen rating represents the percentage of television-equipped households in the market that are tuned into the match. In other words, 12.6% of television-equipped Columbus households watched USA-Portugal, a higher percentage of any city nationwide except Washington, D.C.
"Columbus continues to prove that it's a soccer market," continued Malo. "We need to continue to be proud of that as a community and start to be a little less humble about it, start to raise our hand and say 'we are the home of U.S. Soccer, we are the home of the Crew.' We were the first team, and we want to prove to the rest of the country and the world that we're going to be a market to be reckoned with."
Overall, television ratings for the United States' matches in this FIFA World Cup have exceeded those for other top sporting events in this country, such as the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Final, and some World Series games.