SEOUL, South Korea – Televising World Cup games in the middle of the night U.S. time hasn't hurt ESPN's viewership all that much.
The first nine broadcasts on ESPN2 averaged 440,000 television households, the network said Wednesday, up from an average of 292,000 households for 23 games four years ago, when ESPN2 was received by far fewer homes. The first three telecasts on ESPN averaged 447,000 households, down from the 670,000 average for 27 games at the 1998 tournament in France.
Italy's 2-0 victory over Ecuador on Monday got the most viewers, 582,000,and a 0.7 rating. The least-watched game was Denmark's 2-1 win over Uruguay on Saturday, which got a 0.29 rating and was seen in 246,000 households.
Because of the time difference between the United States and Japan and South Korea, where the tournament is being played, games start at 1:30 a.m., 2:30 a.m., 3:30 a.m., 5 a.m., 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. EDT.
Four years ago, when the tournament was in France, games started mostly in the late morning and midafternoon EDT.
ESPN is received by 86.5 million homes, up from 74 million in 1998, and ESPN2 is received by 83.6 million, up from 57.7 million.
The rating is the percentage tune to a broadcast among those homes that receive the cable network.
Ratings for the United States' 3-2 upset of Portugal on Wednesday were not yet available.