One more thing, have you seen the ratings for this year's World Cup? According to an ESPN Press Release:
Through Wednesday, June 23 (40 games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2), the 2010 World Cup is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating (for the two-hour match window) -- up 40% from 2006 (1.3). Household impressions are up 46% (from 1,389,000 to 2,025,000) and P2+ impressions are up 49% (from 1,789,000 to 2,658,000).
The 2006 games were played in Germany, so it isn't a time zone issue. Sure the England vs. USA match had cache and yesterday's game was do or die, making for riveting viewing, but clearly these numbers aren't result of the circumstances surrounding individual games. More people care now. Will soccer displace American football, baseball or basketball? Hell no. But ESPN's investment in the game should indicate what it thinks its very mainstream audience wants.
And what they want is this. I would've gone YouTube but FIFA, in their blessed marketing ignorance, is pulling down every clip they find...except, of course, the shaky shots made by folks filming their televisions with handheld camcorders.