WatchESPN’s Record 1.7M Concurrent World Cup Viewers Beats The Super Bowl

The WatchESPN app (or site, or however you access it) was the way that many Americans were watching the US vs. Germany World Cup match today. So many, in fact, that the site had issues serving all of its users in the first half. Some folks, including me, couldn’t log on until many minutes into the match.

Still, that didn’t stop ESPN from hitting a record 1.7M concurrent viewers during the second half, the company tells us. “We did investigate some limited issues due to unprecedented demand during the first half,” a spokesperson said in response to inquiries about streaming issues.

The problems I had connecting appeared to be at the point where WatchESPN authenticates my cable provider in order to verify that I actually subscribe to the channel. Ironically, this is an issue that wouldn’t have occurred if they offered some sort of standalone subscription — which will not happen any time soon, no matter what cord-cutter fever dreams you might have.

Still, 1.7M concurrent streams is pretty impressive — for the web. It’s still far below traditional TV, of course, but it compares very well to recent events. The Super Bowl  numbers clocked in at 1.1M concurrent users of the Fox Sports Go online streaming service during the 3rd quarter blowout of the Broncos by the Seahawks. If you’re keeping track, international football beat American football, handily.

Of course, there are a couple of caveats here. This isn’t a service-to-service comparison as it’s Fox’s new-ish streaming service vs. WatchESPN. And the Super Bowl is a very American event. The fact that the World Cup also aired mid-day in the US, when people are more likely to stream and less likely to watch on TV, also probably played a huge part. Still, it’s an interesting, if somewhat imbalanced, comparo.

Update: Fox head of digital Pete Vlastelica also notes that the network’s Super Bowl stream wasn’t available on mobile devices. As we all know the tipping point has been reached for mobile streaming, that would likely have been another big boost. Fox doesn’t get the Super Bowl back until 2017, but does have the NFL, the Women’s World Cup and the US Open coming up. The Super Bowl was their first ‘BIG’ event streamed on the Go service.

“Our live stream absolutely did not experience any outages,” a Univision spokesperson tells us. “In fact, Univision Digital broke records today delivering 750,000 live concurrent streams for the USA vs. Germany match.”

The Brazil vs. Mexico match broke the same record for the network 10 days ago. It became Univision’s most watched live stream ever with 630K concurrent viewers.

That makes it almost 2.45M concurrent streams between WatchESPN and Univision, which did not require a subscription or login.

Olympics viewership during the USA vs. Canada men’s hockey game peaked at around 850k. March Madness is harder to pin down, but comScore data pins 608k users as ‘accessing’ the live feed during the first day of the tournament.

The record for a live-streamed event is still Felix Baumgartner’s space jump, watched by 8M people concurrently. In case you’re wondering how far streaming has yet to go, TV stats for the Super Bowl clocked in at 111.5M viewers.

The US lostwon 0-1 to Germany, but both teams advance to the round of 16.

Article updated to add Univision numbers and to correct some math.

Image Credit: US Soccer