ESPN breathes sigh of relief ... for now
For a couple of hours Friday morning, you just know ESPN was in full panic mode as the United States trailed Slovenia 2-0 in World Cup action. A U.S. loss almost certainly would've killed the Americans chances of moving on to the knockout round and would have been a crushing blow to ESPN's coverage of the World Cup. Consider this: the U.S.-England match last weekend drew in about 13-million viewers on ABC. Meantime, the rest of the tournament is drawing anywhere from about 1.3-million to 3.3-million viewers per match. It doesn't take a math major to figure out that an early U.S. departure would have meant a severe dip in the TV ratings for ESPN, which is dedicating more money and manpower to cover a single event than it ever has before. The U.S., which ended up with a 2-2 tie, still has some work to do to advance to the next stage of World Cup, but its chances are good with a victory against Algeria on Wednesday. ESPN is going to continue to pour full resources into its coverage no matter what happens to the U.S., but, for now, it can rest a little easier knowing Americans are still paying attention. That might change if the United States can't get out of group play and the end almost came Friday morning.