Big Stories to Take from the 2010 World Cup
|1) Ratings Success. This is the most important American story from the 2010 World Cup. With the time difference in South Africa the same as 2006 in Germany, it allowed us to have an equal comparison between the ratings. The results: ESPN - up 31%, and Univision - up 15%. Those are huge increases, and they only should get higher in 2014, when the games are on later in the day.|
2) Mainstream breakthrough. Part of the reason for ESPN's ratings increase had to be due to their relentless promotion. It was very hard to not know that it was going on, sports fan or not. Commercials were running non-stop, far more than any previous tournament. John Skipper, ESPN's Vice President for Content, has to get a ton of credit. He wanted to move the needle, and they did it. Skipper may currently be the most important person in American soccer.
But it wasn't just ESPN, how about Coca Cola putting the World Cup on their cans? That was a huge sign of mainstream acceptance. How about the vuvuzela? For better or worse, everybody is now familiar with it. The 2010 World Cup was a mainstream event.
3) Meeting expectations. It's wrong to call the US heroes for beating Algeria and advancing to the round of 16. However, it's also unfair to call them a disappointment. With the draw we had, anything less than advancement would've rightfully been called a failure. But despite the easier than normal path to the semifinals, a country with the soccer history that we have simply can't expect a better result than the round of 16. There are only 8 places in the quarterfinals, and we aren't one of the top 8 teams in the world. We met expectations, nothing more and nothing less. It's perhaps a lost opportunity with Ghana not being a world beater, but I'm not too upset.