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Regardless of the outcome on the field, Thursday's World Cup matches between the US vs. Germany and Ghana vs. Portugal were a victory for ESPN. The two games, which helped determine which teams would make it into the next knockout round, brought in 1.7 million concurrent viewers to the WatchESPN streaming service.
The figure was a new all-time record for ESPN and eclipsed the 1.1 million viewers that tuned in to watch the Super Bowl using the Fox Sports Go app back in February. If app metrics are any indication, international football is far more popular than American football.
Things didn't go off without a hitch, however, as the massive amount of traffic severely impacted ESPN's servers during the first half. As such, some were unable to log into the service initially. In a statement on the matter, ESPN told TechCrunch that they investigated some limited issues due to unprecedented demand during the first half.
The 1.7 million viewers that tuned in for the World Cup matches is certainly impressive but it doesn't come close to the record for a live-streamed event. That honor goes go Felix Baumgartner's 2012 Red Bull Stratos space jump which was viewed by 8 million people concurrently.
Streaming is no doubt the wave of the future but it still has a long way to go before it surpasses traditional television. To put the numbers into perspective, around 111.5 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl this past year.