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World Cup television coverage breaks viewing records: FIFA

(Reuters) - Japan’s clash against Ivory Coast was one of the most viewed games of the 2014 World Cup so far as television coverage shattered a host of records during the first round of group matches, FIFA said on Friday.

As many as 34.1 million viewers in Japan watched the team’s 2-1 defeat by the Ivorians on the NHK channel at 10 a.m. local time, while 42.9 million in Brazil saw the hosts beat Croatia 3-1 in the tournament’s opener on TV Globo.

The match between the U.S. and Ghana was watched by 11.1 million on ESPN in the United States, setting a new record for ESPN coverage of a men’s World Cup match.

“These record-breaking figures show just how popular football and the FIFA World Cup is across the world, from Japan to Argentina,” said FIFA TV director Niclas Ericson.

“We are seeing highly encouraging growth in interest in markets such as the United States and Australia."

England’s 2-1 defeat by Italy in the Amazon city of Manaus attracted 14.2 million on BBC 1 in the UK and 12.8 million on RAI 1, the highest TV audiences in both countries in 2014.

Germany's ARD channel had 26.4 million watching the country's 4-0 win over Portugal.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; editing by Justin Palmer)

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