Fox Dec. 20 reported that a record 16.8 million viewers Dec. 18 watched Argentina defeat defending World Cup champion France 4-2 on penalty kicks. The viewership was up 48% from the 11.3 million who watched the 2018 final between France and Croatia.
The tally topped the previous ratings World Cup final record holder: the 1994 final between Italy and Brazil, which was watched by 14.5 million, according to Nielsen. It also topped the 15.5 million viewers for the USA/England group play match on Nov. 25.
The final generated 3 million streamers across NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform and 9 million when adding in Telemundo. Indeed, when including Telemundo, 22.3 million combined viewers in U.S. watched the final on linear TV. The match narrowly lost out to the the NCAA College Football National Championship between Georgia and Alabama (22.6 million) and the Winter Olympics debut in February (22.5 million).
Overall, Sunday’s final ranks fifth all-time for soccer TV matches viewed in the U.S. The highest-ever TV soccer viewership was the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final between the U.S and Japan, which was watched by 26.7 million people. The 2014 Germany/Argentina men’s World Cup final generated 26.7 million, followed by the 2014 U.S./Portugal group play match (24.7 million) and the 24.3 million who watched Spain play Holland in 2010.