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Strong ratings for Cup, even with vuvuzelas

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June 13, 2010 07:16 PM EST | AP


NEW YORK — The World Cup is causing quite a buzz on U.S. television.

Nielsen Co. estimates indicate the quadrennial soccer tournament is off to a fast start with viewers, even with the odd, horn-blowing soundtrack that ESPN has sought to minimize on its broadcasts.

Saturday's first-round tie by the U.S. and English teams was seen by an estimated 13 million on ESPN. That made it the most-watched telecast involving the U.S. men's team since 1994.

The first-round contests introduced most of the world to the vuvuzela, a plastic trumpet carried into the matches and blown on incessantly by thousands of fans. On television, it sounds as if the game is being played before a nest of angry bees. ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer says the network is altering the sound mix on its broadcasts to minimize the crowd noise.