The average TV audience for the USA's three World Cup group stage matches was up 68 percent in the United States as compared with the equivalent games in 2006 tournament, testifying to the increased popularity of the sport in the four years since then.

Starting off the 2010 campaign, their first match against England on June 12 was watched by 17.1 million in the States, according to The Nielsen Company.

For much of North America, the game's kick-off fell favorably on a Saturday afternoon, while the equivalent weekend match in 2006 had started as early as 7 in the morning for those on the west coast.

According to Nielsen's VP of Sports, Stephen Master, the jump in audience ratings demonstrates a remarkable increase of interest in US soccer over the last four years: "Although more people than ever chose to watch live streaming video of the games from their computers and mobile devices, TV viewing climbed even higher."

Even the weekday matches on June 18 and 23 were up by nearly 3 million each.

Average US Viewership for USA World Cup group matches, 2010
Saturday, June 12, England 1-1 USA (17.1 million)
Friday, June 18, Slovenia 2-2 USA (7.5 m)
Wednesday ,June 23, USA 1-0 Algeria (8.6 m)
Average: 11.1 million viewers per match

Average US Viewership for USA World Cup group matches, 2006
Monday, June 12, USA 0 - 3 Czech Republic (4.7 million viewers)
Saturday, June 17, Italy 1 - 1 USA (9.8 million)
Thursday, June 22, Ghana 2 - 1 USA (5.5 million)
Average: 6.6 million viewers per match

Source - The Nielsen Company