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ESPN, Univision set audience records for men's World Cup final

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Germany's victory over Argentina in soccer's World Cup final drew record audiences, broadcasters ESPN and Univision said on Monday.

About 26.5 million U.S. viewers on both networks watched Mario Goetze's extra time volley push Germany past Argentina, 1-0, on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro for its fourth World Cup title.

Walt Disney Co's ESPN said its telecast on ABC averaged 17.3 million viewers, while privately held Univision's Spanish-language broadcast averaged 9.2 million.

The networks said those figures were records for a World Cup men's final. ABC's telecast of the 1999 women's World Cup final between the United States and China was watched by 18 million.

The total figure for the men's final was topped by earlier-round matches of the United States and Mexico.

This year's opening round match between the United States and Portugal drew 18.2 million viewers on ESPN, a World Cup record for the network. Univision set its own record with 10.4 million viewers for Mexico's round-of-16 loss to Netherlands.

Rising U.S. interest in soccer, as well as a favorable time difference with host Brazil, helped boost audience numbers for the tournament's 64 matches.

ESPN's coverage, which includes matches on ABC and ESPN2, averaged 4.6 million viewers per match, topping the average of 3.8 million viewers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

ESPN has lost English-language broadcast rights for the 2018 World Cup in Russia to Fox, and Comcast Corp's Telemundo has won bidding to televise matches in Spanish.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Dan Grebler)

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