Copa America Centenario: Television ratings and attendance low to start the tournament
A general view of CenturyLink Field before a game.(Brandon Farris/VAVEL USA)

When it was announced that the 2016 Copa America Centenario would be held in the United States, there was a lot of soccer fans who were excited. There was also people who said that this could be used as an audition to hold a World Cup in the United States. Despite all of the excitement, the attendance figures have been down significantly from what was expected.

Attendance figures are short of expectations

The attendance for the tournament so far has been under what organizers had hoped for. The first match of the tournament, featuring the United States and Colombia did sell out Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA., but so far that has been the only game that has been a sellout, although Mexico and Uruguay came close in Phoenix, as they had around 60,000 fans at their game.

The third-highest drawing game, held at the Rose Bowl between Brazil and Ecuador, attracted just 53,158 fans to a stadium that holds 90,000 fans. Venezuela - Jamaica drew just 25,560 fans to Soldier Field, while Paraguay - Costa Rica drew only 14,344 fans to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Peru - Haiti, held in Seattle, drew just 12,000 fans to the match.


Television Ratings aren’t much better

If the attendance figures are down, doesn’t that just mean that people are watching on television from the comfort of their homes?

The answer is no, as the USA - Colombia match drew just 1.536 million English language viewers to FS1. Comparing it to other notable soccer games, it is 245 percent better than an average US national team friendly, although it is just 70 percent of the 2.2 million people who watched the Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

The full television numbers for the rest of the game have not been announced yet, although the average percent of televisions watching the rest of the games has been less than one percent. The two games non-US games that have drawn the largest television audience have been the two games that have been broadcast of FOX instead of FS1.

The Spanish language broadcasts on Univision have been much better, as the Mexico - Uruguay match drew more viewers to Univision then the Stanley Cup Finals brought to NBC. An average Copa America game on the network has drawn 2.9 million viewers. The USA - Colombia match drew 3.9 million viewers, more than double what the English-language broadcast drew.

What could be causing the low numbers?

There are a few reasons for the low attendance and television numbers. The first is the lack of international stars in the tournament. Brazil pulled Neymar from their team so he would be ready for the Olympics later in the summer, while Luis Suarez missed Uruguay's’s first match, and is doubtful for their next match.

Another reason is the fact that the host team has performed well under expectations. Even before their 2-0 loss to open the tournament, they were struggling. They lost the Gold Cup, and also lost a huge rivalry game with Mexico. To put it from a numbers standpoint. They are attracting less than 10,000 fans to their friendlies this year.

The matches have also been starting very late for a US television audience. The USA - Colombia game didn’t start until 9:30 E.T., while both the Brazil - Ecuador and Argentina - Chile games have started at 10:00 E.T.

There has also been more established sporting events being played at similar times that have drawn viewers away from the tournament. The NHL Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals have been alternating dates and have combined to steal potential viewers from the Copa America.