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World Cup: Streaming viewership rises as tournament winds down

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup heads toward its business end, the U.S. media rights holders enter the quarterfinal round with linear and streaming momentum.

21st Century Fox Inc.'s FOX Sports scored the two biggest authenticated streaming days in its history, while NBCU’s NBCUniversal Media LLC's Telemundo Deportes netted its top streaming mark and best daytime performance with round-of-16 coverage.

Featuring Brazil-Mexico and Belgium-Japan, July 2 ranked as FOX Sports’ top authenticated streaming day ever across all sports, with 159 million minutes and 2 million unique streamers across all sports.

The mark stood until the following day’s round-of-16 presentation showcasing Sweden-Switzerland and England-Colombia. Although they didn’t give specific numbers, FOX Sports officials said July 3 set an authenticated streaming record day across the Fox Sports app, FOX Now, FOX Sports GO and FOXSports.com, with soccer netting 95% of the consumption.

On FOX Sports 1 (US), Brazil’s win over Mexico on July 2 delivered 4.18 million viewers, peaking at 5.37 million watchers, according to data from Nielsen Holdings. FOX Sports set an authenticated streaming record for a single match with an average-minute audience of 538,000 and 1.4 million unique streamers.

Later that day, FS1 averaged 3.49 million viewers as Belgium eliminated Japan in the final minute of stoppage time. Adding in streaming watchers, the match averaged 3.90 million watchers.

Sweden’s win over Switzerland on July 3 averaged 1.69 million viewers on FS1, peaking with 2.35 million watchers in the 11:30 p.m. ET quarter hour. Viewership crossed the 2 million mark when streaming entered the equation. The match-only portion of the telecast averaged 1.91 million viewers.

The second match on July 3 netted just under 4.38 million watchers on FOX (US), making England-Colombia the most-watched non-U.S. weekday, round-of-16 match since the 1990 tournament, according to Nielsen data. The match, in which England prevailed on penalty kicks, peaked with 5.81 million viewers. It was also the second-most-streamed match of the tournament to date with an average-minute audience of 511,000, second behind Brazil-Mexico.

Not surprisingly, Mexico-Brazil was a strong performer for Telemundo (US). The match that ended El Tri’s 2018 World Cup campaign provided a strong audience adios: Telemundo averaged 5.0 million watchers during the two-hour match and 4.4 million viewers during the 9:30 p.m. to noon ET window, ranking as the broadcast network’s most-watched weekday daytime program ever.

Telemundo Deportes’ complete World Cup coverage July 2 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET averaged 2.4 million television viewers, ranking as the most-watched Monday daytime in Telemundo history.

Factoring in viewership on TelemundoDeportes.com, and the Telemundo En Vivo and NBC Sports apps, the match registered a Total Audience Delivery average of 5.50 million viewers to rank as the broadcaster's third-most-watched of the tourney behind the 7.41 million and 7.17 million for Mexico group-stage matches versus Germany and South Korea on June 17 and June 23, respectively.

Mexico-Brazil, with 2.2 million uniques, 4.5 million livestreams and 63.7 million live minutes viewed, stands as the most-watched authenticated livestream event in Telemundo Deportes' history.