Big, big TV ratings for U.S. World Cup match

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Clint Dempsey at the World Cup. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
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Alex Weprin

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Who says Americans won't watch soccer on TV?

The U.S. team played its first game at the World Cup Monday evening against Ghana, winning the game 2-1 in the 86th minute. The game aired on ESPN and Univision, and it streamed online on WatchESPN and Univision's digital platforms as well.

All told, an average of 16 million people watched the game live on television, with at least 1.4 million more watching (legally) online.

ESPN had 11.1 million viewers, the most-watched men's soccer match ever and the most-watched telecast on ESPN since the network's Jan. 6 B.C.S. Championship coverage. Univision averaged 4.8 million viewers for its language coverage, according to overnight data from Nielsen.

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Online, ESPN says that 1.4 million people streamed the U.S.-Ghana game on WatchESPN, while Univision hasn't shared its digital numbers just yet.

The ratings are a very good sign for ESPN and Univision: the U.S. next plays Portugal, on Sunday evening, a time period that lends itself to even higher numbers. If the U.S. were to advance out of the group stage and into the knockout stage, the ratings would likely climb even higher.