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The World Cup’s biggest winners: US media giants

Robin Van Persie of the Netherlands and Ezequiel Garay of Argentina during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semifinal match in Sao Paulo.
Amin Mohammad Jamali | Getty Images
Robin Van Persie of the Netherlands and Ezequiel Garay of Argentina during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semifinal match in Sao Paulo.

As the World Cup wraps up this weekend the biggest winners won't be determined in that final match Sunday. In dollars and cents, the biggest winners are media companies—both traditional and social.

The World Cup has broken all sorts of ratings records for ESPN, which will boost its ad revenue at a usually slow time of the year. That means Disney's sports behemoth has more than gotten its money's worth from the $100 million it paid for rights to the tournament.

Though we won't see the impact of the highly rated soccer matches in Disney's next earnings report, coming on Aug. 8, CEO Bob Iger may provide some color on just how much of a boost the better-than-expected results of the tournament will provide to the company's bottom line.

The big question now, whether the next two World Cups will provide as good a return on investment for Fox. Rupert Murdoch's network paid $425 million for the next two tournaments. It's possible that this year's exciting matches have created a slew of new devoted soccer fans, especially in the U.S.

But on the downside, the 2018 and 2022 matches won't have the advantage of such a convenient time zone for U.S. viewers—they're in Russia and then Qatar. Plus, it's impossible to predict how far the U.S. team will advance—always key in drawing state-side interest.

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Then there's the organization that licenses those content rights. Major League Soccer has reported a 300 percent jump in subscriptions to its streaming service that gives access to all season games, though it wouldn't reveal exact numbers. Its website monthly unique visitors also tripled to 6.6 million in June.

When it comes to social media, the World Cup has been the biggest event Facebook and Twitter have ever tracked. Facebook revealed that more than 300 million of its users have had over 2 billion interactions about the matches. The Germany versus Brazil upset had the highest level of conversation for any single match with 66 million people having 200 million interactions.

Twitter reports that with 35.6 million Tweets, Brazil versus Germany was the most-discussed single sports game ever on the platform. It also set a Tweets per minute record, at 580,166. We'll see when Facebook and Twitter report later this month if the global conversation about soccer helped Facebook or Twitter add new users.

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By CNBC's Julia Boorstin

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