Here are the TV ratings numbers proving the U.S. women's national soccer team is underpaid

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The New York Times reported Thursday morning that five top members of the U.S. Women's National soccer team will file a federal wage complaint alleging pay discrimination on the part of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The complaint will allege that the women's team is earning as little as 40% of what men take in despite serving as the driving force for the federation.

On that latter point, they have a strong case.

Here, via data come from, are the ratings numbers for women's soccer over the past five years, a time that has seen U.S. women's teams finish first and second in the World Cup, as well as a gold medal.

  • In 2011, the women's world cup final ranked as the most-viewed soccer telecast (regardless of gender) ever on ESPN; the sixth-most viewed soccer telecast ever on a single network (also, regardless of gender); and the second-most viewed daytime program in the history of cable television. It drew a 7.4 U.S. rating and 13.458 million viewers.
  • In 2012, the U.S.-Canada women's Olympic semifinal contributed the then- single most-viewed half-hour of the Olympics on NBCSN.
  • Three days later, the U.S.-Japan gold medal match drew 4.350 million viewers on NBC Sports Network, the largest audience in the history of that network. The previous record was the 2010 Stanley Cup hockey final.

Last year's Women's World Cup, in which the U.S. triumphed over Japan, saw the biggest numbers ever for the women's game, and offered some striking comparisons to men's sports.

  • Early-round matches each had at least 3-million viewers, ranking them in the top-10 most-watched women's games ever . One match against Nigeria, which was broadcast against the NBA Finals and America's Got Talent, still netted 5 million viewers.
  • The semi-final against Germany notched 8.4 million viewers, giving it the largest audience ever for a World Cup semifinal on a single network, regardless of gender.
  • And the final was the most-watched soccer telecast ever in the U.S., with a total of 26.7 million viewers. That topped the previous record of 26.5 million for the 2014 Men's World Cup Final. The previous high for a women’s match was the 18 million for the 1999 final.

Finally, an Olympic qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago just last month broke the record the women's game had already set for NBCSN, bringing in 329,000 viewers.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” goalie Hope Solo said in a statement. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships and the USMNT get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”


Here is the full EEOC complaint:

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.