During any Summer Olympics, the three most hyped and most talked about sports are always swimming, gymnastics and track and field. Things were no different during the London Olympics thanks to the likes of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Aly Raisman, the not impressed McKayla Maroney and, last but certainly not least, Usain Bolt. When all was said and done, however, soccer emerged as potentially the most surprising star of the London Games.
According to a story posted on the LA Times website on Monday, soccer was the most-Tweeted about sport during the Olympics. The social networking website has reported that more than 5 million Tweets about the men's and women's Olympic soccer tournaments were posted over the past two weeks. That same story also states that the save made by Hope Solo late in the US Women's National Team gold medal match against Japan was one of the most-Tweeted moments of the London Olympics.
Soccer wasn't just a hit in the "Twitterverse." The sport also brought in big TV ratings. According to the RBR-TVBR website, the USWNT vs. Japan gold medal match was the "most-watched and highest-rated event ever on NBC Sports Network." 4.350 million watched the match, beating the network's previous high of 3.6 million viewers for Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. That same story also states that a record 1.467 million people streamed the gold medal match on NBCOlympics.com.
NBC wasn't the only network to benefit from the Olympic soccer competitions. The LA Times reported on Monday that a record 3.6 million viewers watched the men's gold medal match involving Mexico and Brazil on Spanish-language network Telemundo. Soccer fans living in Canada also watched like never before. Bill Mann of MarketWatch reported on Tuesday that the Canada Women's National Team vs. USWNT semifinal match that occurred last Tuesday afternoon ET, one that was also the most controversial game in either tournament, drew in more viewers up north than did the Stanley Cup Final from two years ago; and that Final featured a Canadian team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Mike Collett of Reuters reported this past weekend that more people watched both Olympic soccer competitions in-person than ever before. An Olympic record 86,162 fans watched the men's gold medal match, and the 80,203 figure for the USA vs. Japan gold medal game was a record-high for an Olympic and European women's soccer contest. In all, 2,186,930 fans attended the 2012 Olympic matches, beating the previous record of 2,137,462 that was set four years ago in Beijing.
Perhaps most important about all of the stats posted above is that the 2012 Olympic soccer tournaments provided plenty of entertaining football for both diehard fans and casual viewers. Some have called the Canada vs. US match the greatest women's soccer game ever played. The men's gold medal contest may turn out to be the start of a "golden era" for Mexico. The World Cup and European Championship are undeniably massive events, but fans showed this summer that they are willing to go out of the way to watch Olympic soccer on television and in-person.
Let's hope NBC remembers that and once again shows all of the Olympic soccer games live in 2016.
- Sports & Recreation