On Sunday, a crowd of nearly 60,000 people gathered at France's Parc Olympique Lyonnais to watch as the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final.
Back in the U.S., millions more were watching. According to a statement from Fox Sports, citing data from Nielsen, approximately 14.3 million U.S. viewers tuned in to the final match on television, compared to 11.4 million for the 2018 Men's World Cup Final, a 22% U.S. viewership boost.
Fox Sports' statement reports that total viewership, including online streaming, peaked at roughly 20 million, making it the most-watched soccer match on English-language television, men's or women's, in the U.S. since the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final, which delivered 25.4 million viewers.
According to CNN, an additional 1.6 million viewers watched the final match in Spanish on Telemundo.
The 2015 Women's World Cup Final in Canada aired at night in the U.S., while the 2019 Women's World Cup Final in France aired earlier in the day. The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final also had to compete for viewers with the Men's Concacaf Gold Cup final and the Men's Copa América final, which both took place on Sunday as well.
USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe called the scheduling of all three matches on the same day "ridiculous and disappointing."
Despite these challenges, the 2019 championship game set a record for online streaming for Fox Sports. The match delivered an average minute audience of 289,000 viewers for the network — up 402% from the 2015 Women's World Cup — making it the most-streamed women's final in history.
Fox Sports reports that 17.8 million people viewed the 2019 final match on social media, an increase of 18% on Twitter and YouTube, compared to the men's final in 2018.
According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. women's soccer games have generated more revenue for the USSF than U.S. men's games over the past three years, and according to Nike, the 2019 women's stadium home jersey is the top-selling soccer jersey, men's or women's, ever sold on Nike.com in one season.
But despite these accomplishments, the total prize money from FIFA for the 2019 Women's World Cup was $30 million — just 7.5% of the Men's World Cup prize in 2018. As the champions, the USWNT will take home $4 million in prize money. Last year's men's champions, France, took home $38 million.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, the USWNT's contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) guarantees players $200,000 each for their first-place performance at the World Cup, while the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) would have earned $1.1 million each for the same achievements.
In March, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the USSF for gender discrimination and unequal pay and according to The Wall Street Journal, the USSF and the USWNT have "tentatively agreed to pursue mediation after the World Cup ends."
Now that the World Cup has ended, the USWNT will play a five-game victory tour and mediation is expected to begin.
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