DFW’s World Cup viewing numbers are a joke

06/30/2014 8:43 PM

07/01/2014 1:03 PM

One of the benefits of the World Cup is finally the excuse to let out all of our well-stocked loathing and hatred of ... Belgium?

It’s high time this little nation of 10.4 million between the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg — famous for its beer, fine art and a statue of a little boy relieving himself — is on the receiving end of the full wrath of United States.

And … none of this quite fits.

Belgium evokes no real emotion in the U.S., which is yet another convenient excuse for those of us who reside in DFW not to watch the 2014 World Cup when the Yanks play Belgium in the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Brazil.

DFW sells itself as one of America’s best sports cities, yet it has become rather embarrassingly apparent we care only about our own, thus solidifying only ourselves as the greatest enabler to Jerry Jones.

The governor of the great state of Texas, the honorable Mr. Rick Perry, often cries for the need to strengthen our borders, but there is already a de facto sports wall around the state that is mighty strong. The wall says if you aren’t one of us, we don’t care.

According to the dreaded but worshiped Nielsen ratings, DFW viewership of the U.S. opening-round match against Ghana ranked 53rd out of 56 major markets. DFW ranked 55th against Germany. Our “high point” was the match against Portugal, where we ranked a “stout” 48th.

Go ahead and add the numbers from the Spanish-language Univision and it’s still not great. We are acting like a bunch of self-involved sports brats.

The Dallas Cowboys’ final preseason game against the Dolphins in 2013 scored a 12.6 rating in DFW; the combined ratings (English and Spanish) in DFW for the U.S. match against Portugal was a 9.7.

As long as ratings like this are the norm — and there is zero indication they will soon change — Jerry can draft injured tight ends in the first round and pay bad-backed quarterbacks until the end of time. The man has your sports’ heart in a vise, and he absolutely knows it.

Regardless of our drug addiction for these Cowboys and football, the World Cup ratings for DFW are embarrassing. A sports market as vibrant, varied and wealthy as ours should be better than this.

Despite the strong Latin community, an MLS franchise, the wildly popular amateur Dallas Cup as well as throngs of youth soccer teams, DFW has no excuse to watch the big game other than self-importance and the staunch refusal to look beyond our own borders.

While camera crews are catching massive watching parties from DC to KC to Chicago, there has been, comparatively speaking, no such footage of a similar scale from this area when the U.S. played — no giant mob scenes gleefully bouncing around at a major park when the U.S. took the lead late against Ghana.

There are very likely about the same number of die-hard soccer fans in those communities as there are here, yet the support from the casual fans in those markets, who are interested in soccer every four years, is not even making the “ratings game” close.

You do not have to be a soccer fan to enjoy the almost absurd drama of this World Cup, especially given the convenience of the start times and the success of the Yanks. This is about as good a run as any U.S. team has ever had in any World Cup.

There is no reason not to watch.

Alas, there is a solution and an easy fix to this problem — just watch. You may not be hooked on the “beautiful game,” but at a minimum, you will be supporting the home team, joining a big party and can see for yourself what the fuss is about. There is no easier game to understand than soccer, and — at least for Tuesday’s match — we can let out some of that pent-up hatred toward Belgium.

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About Mac Engel

Mac Engel

@macengelprof

Since 1998 Mac Engel has covered the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars, the Dallas Cowboys, colleges, high schools, the Olympics, women's basketball, even amateur women's judo. He has wasted more brain space on local sports than a human should. And he's a big fan of talking about it.

Email Mac at tengel@star-telegram.com | Read The Big Mac Blog

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