NEW YORK • The Women's World Cup final between the United States and Japan drew a record US audience for a football game, beating both baseball's World Series and the National Basketball Association Finals.
The total of 25.4 million viewers surpassed the previous record for a football match, when 18.2 million tuned in to see the US men's football team play Portugal during last year's World Cup Finals in Brazil, the Fox network said on Monday .
The tally puts women's football in a league previously owned by men's sports and highlights Fox's foresight in gaining the broadcasting rights through to 2026.
The NBA finale on the ABC channel last month attracted 23.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data, while last year's Game 7 of Major League Baseball's World Series on Fox attracted 23.5 million.
The US beat Japan 5-2 last Sunday. It was the third time the US women's team have won the World Cup, and the first since 1999.
Last Sunday's game in Vancouver was a rematch of the 2011 final held in Frankfurt, and the rating was 77 per cent better than the 8.6 ESPN drew for the previous meeting, which Japan won on penalty kicks.
The US has 116.4 million TV households, according to Nielsen.
The popularity of the tournament underscores the growing audience for soccer in the US, especially among young viewers and women.
The Fox network has made coverage of the Women's World Cup a flagship event, attracting sponsors like Fiat and Samsung, and delivering record audiences, including a doubling of the female audience compared with four years ago.
The highest major-market football rating for a men's game in the US, a 9.1 on ESPN, came during last year's World Cup as the American men earned a 2-2 draw with Portugal during the group stage. The rating for last Sunday's game peaked at more than twice that at 18.3.
According to digital marketing firm Amobee, for six hours after the final, social media went into a frenzy, with Twitter activity - some 2,875,436 tweets - driving the conversations.