A record 8.9 million viewers tuned in for Telemundo’s coverage of Argentina’s 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday, making it the most-watched World Cup group stage broadcast in U.S. history.
The game, which kicked off in the primetime 2 p.m. ET spot on Saturday, shattered the previous group stage record of 5.7 million viewers set two days prior in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia on Thanksgiving.
NBCUniversal — which owns Telemundo — also reported 2.08 million viewers streaming on Telemundo and Peacock. That marks a nearly 50% increase from the previous record of 1.35 million streamers set on Tuesday in Mexico’s draw against Poland.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
The Saturday matchup became one of the most anticipated of the tournament after Saudi Arabia upset Argentina in their opening match. Meanwhile, Mexico drew with Poland to pick up one point, setting the stage for a must-win game for Lionel Messi and La Albiceleste.
After a scoreless first half, Argentina put on an impressive second half when 35-year-old Messi and 21-year-old Enzo Fernandez both snuck shots past Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
The win put Argentina in second of what has turned out to be one of the most chaotic group standings in Qatar. Argentina will conclude group play on Wednesday against Poland, who took the lead in the group with a key win over Saudi Arabia.
Poland has four points, Argentina and Saudi Arabia have three points – but the Argentine side holds a two-goal advantage on the tiebreaker — and Mexico rounds out the group with one point.
While Saturday’s result gave Argentina control of its own destiny, the work is far from over to secure its spot in the next round.
Argentina is guaranteed a place in the knockout round with a win over Poland and would still advance on a draw if Mexico and Saudi Arabia draw or if Mexico beats Saudi Arabia by less than three goals. Most importantly, Argentina cannot afford to lose to Poland or else it faces certain elimination. Regardless of the outcome of their game, Mexico or Saudi Arabia are guaranteed to come out with four points and would overtake Argentina for the second spot in the round of 16.
Mexico finds itself on a trickier path as its hopes of advancing hinge on beating Saudi Arabia, preferably by a margin of at least two goals. Even if Mexico does manage to pick up three points, its path to the knockout round still depends on Poland beating Argentina or that game ending in a draw and getting through on goal differential.
Depending on how far these teams advance, they could be in position to break the overall U.S. Spanish-language record of 9.2 million television viewers, set at the 2014 World Cup in a round of 16 game between the Netherlands and Mexico.