It’s not the nation’s most popular sport (yet), but soccer has made its way past our national pastime in the ratings. The U.S. Men’s National Team landed more viewers in its second game of the World Cup—a 2-2 draw against Portugal that kept the U.S. in contention—than the the final championship games or matches of every other pro sport except football.
According to an analysis at The Wrap, USA-Portugal played to 18.2 million live plus same day total viewers on ESPN, topping the World Series Game 6, which landed 18 million flat. Game 5 of the NBA Finals (the last game) took in 18 million as well, with Game 5 of the Stanley Cup, pulling in 6 million.
Team USA’s match against Belgium on Tuesday was predicted to top the Portugal game’s ratings, but it finished second in viewership. The U.S. team lost 2-1 in overtime and was eliminated.
If you add in the Spanish-language numbers from the same soccer match on Univision, you can throw in an additional 6.5 million viewers, which means that more people watched USA-Portugal than watch Game of Thrones each week (the show lands an average of 18.6 million across all platforms and repeats). The one spectacle left for soccer to conquer? Football. This year’s Super Bowl had a record-setting 112.2 million viewers.
So, here’s an unsolicited list of ways Team USA (and ESPN) could increase its viewership even more:
1. Make sure Cristiano Ronaldo is on the other team in every game. Always have a camera trained on his eyebrows.
2. Have Tim Howard play every position (I’m talking an Orphan Black-setup here).
4. Can Beyoncé perform at halftime? Or maybe like a Beyoncé hologram?