Iceland’s World Cup debut was watched by 99.6% of its TV viewers on Saturday

Winning eyeballs.
Winning eyeballs.
Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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If you were in front of the TV in Iceland on Saturday, you were watching the 2018 World Cup.

Iceland’s first-ever World Cup match, against Argentina, drew 99.6% of people in Iceland who were watching TV on the afternoon of June 16, the country’s national broadcasting service, RÚV, announced. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

That’s a smidgen shy of the 99.8% of Icelandic TV viewers that watched the nation’s historic win over England in the 2016 European Championships, or Euro 2016—the second-biggest soccer event behind the World Cup.

RÚV said the weekend’s World Cup game had a bigger total audience and is the most-watched sporting event in Iceland’s history. Early data shows the game’s viewership averaged 60% of Iceland’s population of 335,000, about 201,000 viewers, besting the 58.8% who watched Iceland beat England in Euro 2016, the Guardian reported, based on an announcement from the broadcasting service (link in Icelandic).

This is the first FIFA World Cup Iceland has qualified for, and the underdog team is finding fans beyond the land of fire and ice. The Saturday match, against one of the top teams in the world, was also one of the most-watched matches in the tournament so far on US networks Fox and FS1, which holds the English-language rights to the tournament in the country, with an average of nearly 3 million US viewers.