The audience for USA-Mexico on Univision dwarfed the audience for Duke-Carolina on ESPN.
You have to appreciate the passion of Mexican futbol fans. El Tri are playing miserably right now. They're coached by Sven Goran Eriksson, who is most noted for an inability to beat Big Phil Scolari. Eriksson has one foot out the door already. Mexico's captain starts for Barcelona and was last seen getting red-carded in Santander, a feat that he repeated on Wednesday night. Despite all of their struggles, Mexicans turned on their TVs in droves to watch the match against El Tri's arch-rival. You have to admire that loyalty.
I'd be very interested to know what ESPN's upper management thinks of those numbers. Duke-UNC is supposed to be the pinnacle of the college basketball regular season, but it just drew a little more than half the audience of a World Cup qualifying match. Duke-UNC's 3.3 million viewers was also a little more than half of the audience for the Cavs-Lakers game on Sunday, despite the fact that the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels were both in the top five coming into the game. I understand that college basketball is a valuable property to fill up airtime, but how much value is bound up in a high-volume product that doesn't get ratings? I don't know what the alternative is. It isn't as if ESPN can put hockey games on and get bigger numbers. My overall point is that college basketball's regular season doesn't move the needle and it probably gets more attention from ESPN than the ratings can justify.