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World Cup viewership increases over 2010 opener in US

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Television viewership of the World Cup's opening game was up 8 per cent over 2010, due to increased interest in ESPN's English-language telecast.

The Nielsen company said Friday that 9.5 million people in the U.S. watched Brazil's tournament-opening victory over Croatia, compared to the 8.8 million who saw Mexico take on South Africa in 2010's first game.

Univision's Spanish-language audience of 5.1 million was down from the 5.9 million who watched in 2010. That's not a surprise, given the game four years ago involved Mexico, and a large percentage of Univision's audience is of Mexican descent.

ESPN's opening day audience Thursday was 4.4 million, up 55 per cent from the 2.9 million who watched in 2010.

Facebook said that some 58 million people worldwide posted messages about the first game, 16 million of them in the host country of Brazil, which won the game.

Twitter said that more than 12.2 million tweets were sent about the first day's match during the live telecast. Neymar was the most tweeted-about player for Brazil, and he gained 165,000 followers.

The Canadian Press

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