When a women’s soccer game viewing party breaks out in a gym, who does heavy lifting?

IMG_3654Until you actually witness a bunch of weight lifters drop what they’re doing at the local gym and seek out a TV monitor that has a FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer match, it’s easy to underestimate the weight that this event carries.
Just before halftime of Tuesday’s U.S.-Germany semifinal contest on Fox’s KTTV-Channel 11 affiliate, the DirecTV feed at my Torrance-based fitness center went down – too much wind and tropical atmospheric disturbance outside likely caused it.
But as my cardio workout dragged on, the personal TV attached above the digital dashboard of my Precor machine didn’t flicker off as the others did. Maybe it had a hookup from an Internet stream or cable TV source.
So from my vantage point, Alex Morgan just missing the net in the 42nd minute with a shot attempt, and Tobin Heath crashing into the boards beyond the end line after a mad dash was clearly captivating.
The subsequent groans behind me gave me a moment to pause and turn around.
There, a group of lifters who had been focused on the match via the wall-mounted flatscreens in the area they were previously grunting and groaning had come over to my section and were now angling to see the action on my screen – hopefully, this optical experience was not dependent on the energy I was generating from my elliptical routine.
Once halftime arrived, the party broke up. Some said they were heading next door to the Whole Foods food court to watch the second half. Others were racing home to see the finish.
By any way in measuring TV success – starting with the traditional data that Nielsen spits out — this tournament that comes to a patriotic climax Sunday at 4 p.m. has hardly been a superficial experience being played out on artificial turf.
An average audience of 8.4 million viewers, peaking to 12.1 million by the time it was over, saw Tuesday’s U.S. 2-0 triumph. That’s the greatest audience for a men’s or women’s World Cup semifinal game in U.S. history. For a game with a 4 p.m. weeknight start, L.A. market’s 6.1 rating was actually better than the national average of 6.0.
Remember, none of that measures public places like sports bars, restaurants, office buildings, dorm rooms … or gyms. And it’s not factoring in those breaking records with NBC’s Telemundo Spanish-language feed, or grabbing streaming for the Fox Go mobile devices.
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