This past Sunday, the Copa America Centenario final went head-to-head with the season finale of Game of Thrones in a battle for TV ratings. The Copa America Centenario final, a match-up between the favored and attention-stealing Argentines and the aggressive underdog Chileans, was broadcast on both Fox Sports 1 and Univision. The Game of Thrones finale was broadcast on the premium subscription channel HBO.
Argentina came sailing into the final like Daenerys to Westeros – full steam ahead (sans dragons). Lead by Lionel Messi, the King of Barcelona, Protector of Camp Nou, and the Breaker of Records, Argentina looked unbeatable in the group stage and into the knockout round, even beating Chile in their first game of the tournament.
However, their momentum stopped as the Brazilian referee (aka the Mad King) sent a player from each team to the showers early. The Chilean high pressure was brought back to life like Jon Snow at Castle Black and the few opportunities Argentina had to score were squandered.
As the game entered the pressure-packed penalty shoot-out, Messi handed his countrymen the coup de grâce and sent the ball over the net, soaring through the air like a white raven signaling the coming of a long winter for Argentina. The Chileans, much-deserved champions, celebrated and sit upon the Copa America throne for the second straight summer.
But back to why you opened this post…
Univision’s broadcast of the Copa America Centenario final averaged 6.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched soccer program on the channel since the 2014 World Cup final. On FS1, the game drew an average of 2.98 million viewers making it the fourth-largest viewing audience for a soccer game in FS1 history. The combined number of almost 10 million viewers is a great number for the sport on U.S. television, especially for a game not featuring the U.S. or Mexico.
How does that compare to the Game of Thrones finale? Game of Thrones is a pop culture juggernaut and the season finale was watched live by 8.9 million people, which is now the most-watched episode in series history. That’s a great number for any program, but for a program on a premium subscription channel that number is monstrous.
Maybe the Copa America Centenario final beating the Game of Thrones finale in viewers seems like a given, but the fact that it did and did so with some room to breathe is a great thing.