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Spain-Italy Most Watched Match So Far And Other ESPN Euro Ratings News

As we head into the final weekend of Euro 2008, ESPN decided to take the occasion yesterday to put out a new press release talking about how the tournament is doing viewership wise through the quarterfinal round.  So, what did they have to say?

As noted in the headline, the Spain v Italy quarterfinal shown on ESPN Sunday was the most watched Euro 2008 match before the semifinals.  The game scored a 1.4 rating, with 1.39 million homes and 1.91 million viewers tuning in.  Given these were two of the highest-profile teams in the tournament, the result doesn’t come as much of a surprise.  Overall, in six matches shown on the ESPN, the average rating is a .9, with 835,000 homes and 1.1 million viewers.  Compared to the same time slot (2:30-5PM eastern) on ESPN in 2007, this represents an 80% increase in rating, a 90% increase in households, and a 116% increase in total viewers from the network average.

Meanwhile, ESPN2 in 16 matches aired has a .5 rating with 506,000 homes and 635,000 viewers, which respectively represent a 67%, 59%, and 75% increase on ESPN2′s average for the same time slot in 2007.  And the online video service ESPN360 has had it’s biggest month in history between Euro 2008, the US Open, and Wimbledon, with eight of the 10 most viewed single events being Euro matches.

As for the one game broadcast on ABC, the Netherlands v Russia quarterfinal finished with a 1.2 rating and 1.84 million viewers according to ratings site TV by the Numbers.  Compared to other Saturday afternoon sports broadcasts, it roughly fell in the middle of the pack.  The match finished well behind FOX Saturday Baseball and the Men’s Gymnastics Olympic Trials on NBC, but it did finish ahead of the rest of NBC’s afternoon sports lineup and the PGA Tour on CBS.

Overall, the ratings seem fairly positive given this is an event without an obvious American interest and with most of its matches falling in the middle of the workday. Positive enough to ensure its return in four years time, or to cause ESPN to bring in more European soccer? We will have to wait and see. For now, the focus will be on a big finish with Sunday’s soccer doubleheader on ABC, with the LA Galaxy playing DC United in MLS action before the Germany v Spain final.

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39 Responses to Spain-Italy Most Watched Match So Far And Other ESPN Euro Ratings News

  1. j says:

    these numbers are meaningless, they dont factor in people watching them in bars which a large number of them do.

  2. j says:

    and serie a is the best league in the world. get it straight

  3. J,

    These numbers are meaningless? My friend I don’t think so. What they tell us is there are plenty of people who are more than happy to watch the match from the comfort of their own home without being ripped off by beer prices, and tasteless overpriced food.

    By the time it’s all said and done, bar numbers don’t add that much to the overall rating by the time it’s all said and done.

    Also, the last time I checked, the Nielsen Ratings ONLY COUNTED HOUSES, not bars/pubs/clubs/whatever the hell they are called today. If you want to start the ‘official bar numbers’, by all means do us all a favor and do so.

    And let us not forget, advertisers don’t give a rats behind about how many are watching from the local establishment. They care about who’s actually going to watch the commercials. ESPN does as well because it’s how they set their advertising rates.

  4. tyduffy says:

    Even if the numbers are skewed because of the bar factor, they are still quite impressive for a tournament with no obvious connection to the United States. Some of those numbers are 2-3 times what FSC gets for a marquee Premier League matchup, which shows that they are attracting casual viewers. And, it shows what kind of growth potential the EPL could have with ESPN’s brand and production value behind it, which bodes well for us fans in the States.

  5. Todd says:

    in fairness being on a channel everyone has in the afternoon during the summer doenst hurt does it? also highlights are on sportscenter every night. its the same way i tune into the major golf or tennis tournys..i wont be there to buy merch or follow the stories all year. keep perspective

  6. fred says:

    i thought the numbers seem pretty low. In a country of 300 milion id have thought you could have at least 5mil on a Sunday.

  7. Jeff Hash says:

    Todd: I won’t disagree persay, but for the sport, anything that works to break the ‘every four years’ (World Cup only) menality as far as paying attention to it is good news. This is a starting point more than anything else.

    Fred: weekends in summer tend not to draw high viewership anywhere, mostly because a lot of people take the opportunity to get away from the TV. Even the weekly NASCAR race (which was part afternoon/part prime-time) the same day just managed to get 6 million viewers.

  8. Kartik says:

    I don’t think the EPL could get these kinds of numbers ever. Americans take better to international events with nations (ie the Olympics which in my lifetime have gone from the greatest spectacle in the world to an unwatchable fraud) and the fact is ESPN has a whole in its programming schedule during the summer which they do not have at any point during the PL season except the first few weeks.

    Keep in mind the Italy-US match in 2006 World Cup got an extraordinary rating: over a six on ABC and a 4.5 on Univision. Also last year the very same weekend the Gold Cup final between Mexico and the US was watched by close to 3,000,000 homes on Univision. Not sure about FSC and I actually was in Mexico for the match.

    International soccer in June works and has for a number of years now, but it does not correspond to good numbers for the EPL, Serie A, etc in the middle of winter when the NFL, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NBA, etc are all in progress.

  9. eplnfl says:

    The numbers point up and they can not really take in the people watching from a bar, pub, or lunch spot which I did several times during the tournament.

    Sunday is critical for soccer in America. A doubleheader on a major American network
    on a Sunday afternoon. It’s the summer and a holiday week upon us, but good #’s mean a lot on Sunday, so get your family and friends to tune in.

  10. Kartik says:

    Lou,

    A couple points.

    It’s critical on the Euro front, but not so on the MLS front.

    In 1999 ABC showed 13 MLS matches. This year they will show two.

    MLS in 1996 still averaged more fans a game than it does in 2008.

    The quality of play in MLS circa 1996 was arguably better than in 2008. Sure 2008 is better than 2003 but that simply tells you the dip between 1996 and 2003.

    MLS is in business largely because of the marketing of the Mexican National Team, probably in reality on of the most popular sports teams on American soil, here in the states. Shrewd and smart dealings by SUM/MLS to make partnerships with Barca, Mexico and the Bundesliga is keeping the league afloat. The league itself is not doing well. The TV ratings tomorrow while families are at church or enjoying themselves in other ways will bear that out.

  11. Kartik says:

    My other point was in the 1996 the US was coming off a semi-final appearance at the Copa America. In 2008 we are coming off a last place finish. So while international soccer continues to grow the one thing we can take heart in is if and when MLS folds (which is more likely than many think) and we are left with USL the game will survive. I did not think the game would survive MLS folding since it did not survive the folding of the NASL but clearly these are different times with more sophisticated and British oriented fans. England winning the World Cup in 2010 which I think is a strong possibility wouldn’t hurt either.

  12. eplnfl says:

    Kartik, I know you have insight on the MLS that others do not, so I accept the fine line that the MLS bank account maybe walking.

    The 1999 reference may not be a good one. In today’s US media market major sporting events are now on cable only! So, ABC reducing it’s # of MLS games is only a market trend. In 1996 or even 1999, I hardly knew what the Copa America was about, and didn’t we all in the US have a bad hangover after the 1998 World Cup train wreck by the US. Euro 04 was know and followed by hardcore fans in the US only, I had to search the net for outlets then, today at work I just go to ESPN360 and almost all my local lunch spots are showing the games.

    We all would like the MLS to compete with the European leagues, and if 4 hours of live soccer coverage on Sunday is a hit, ESPN will be willing to invest more in soccer coverage both local and international. TV has made a number of American sports, the NFL and NASCAR to name two big examples. The NHL being a minor sport on the American sports scene is due to it’s lack of TV exposure. For those of you who have never seen a NHL game in person, you are missing something. Thus, the critical nature for Sundays coverage.

  13. US Fan says:

    Kartik, stop hating on MLS.

    You are so wrong on so many levels.

    1) For the first time ever(beginning with 2007), ESPN and all other TV networks started paying MLS.
    2) Shirt sponsorships started in 2007.
    3) If the league is financially weak, as you so suggest, we wouldn’t be building soccer-specific stadiums.
    4) Attendance averaging 16,500 is not peanuts. That even surpasses the 1996 inaugural season.
    5) Stop your comparisons with the 1996 season: inaugural seasons in any new sport or new sporting event almost always start on a high note.
    6) Went from 3 owners to over 12 now.
    7) On-field playing is on a higher level than in any other year in the past.
    8) The league is growing as more teams are joining MLS.
    etc…etc…

    So many other points to discuss, I don’t have enough time to get into.
    Believe me when I say; MLS is steaming ahead with no concern whatsoever for folding.

  14. Ryan says:

    It may be comparing apples to oranges, but for what its worth the average NBA attendance this year was 17,141 , so on that front MLS is only about 600 fans behind one of the 3 major American sports.

  15. Kartik says:

    US Fan,

    I respectfully disagree. Why is it that USL-1 clubs have had shirt sponsorships for years from companies with much bigger brand recognition than Amigo Energy or Xango?

    I hope MLS succeeds, I really do. But the best way to keep the league afloat would be to cut loose the DPs which will eventually bankrupt the league, focus more on player development, lower the number of internationals per side (it’s pathetic when Pat Noonan and Nate Jaqua have to leave MLS to get their fair market value, but foreign players who other than Blanco and Becks add little in terms of production that Americans cannot get seven figure salaries. Do you really think C. Lopez is any better for KC than Josh Wolff was for instance, or that Gallardo is any better for DC than C. Gomez- who is argentine but a guy our league found, not paid big $$$$ for or B. Olsen have been?)

    MLS was on the right track until a few years ago. Now overexpanding and over paying for players hasn’t increased interest. 16,500 is less than we averaged in 1996, and I submit those figures aren’t real. Doubleheader games (like Brazil in Foxboro) and free tickets spike that number. The quality is better than five years ago but I would argue based on our results against mexican clubs in big matches it is worse than from 1996 to 2000.

    USL senses an opportunity. Stay tuned for developments on that front, but USL doesn’t see itself as a second division as much anymore, and things may be shook up in the next 3-5 years. Maybe it doesn’t happen, but it may. Don’t be shocked if some major changes occur on the club side of the domestic landscape.

  16. Kartik says:

    Now this is a big deal and HUGE break through for Soccer in this country:

    –The U.S. Soccer Development Academy finals will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPNU. Seven of the eight placement matches (four each in the U16 and 18 brackets) will air on ESPNU on July 18 and 19. The U18 final will air on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. July 18.

    For the first time ESPN and US Soccer are putting youngsters, and development in front of us. This to me is much bigger than anything the Euros or MLS can do for the long term success of our national team program. Thank you ESPN!

  17. Joe says:

    As much as it really truly pains me too, I am actually going to agree with Kartik here for a change.

    MLS is seen as a “socialist” product. Owners don’t really own teams they own a share of the league and teams aren’t encouraged to step out and sign good young players because they don’t keep the transfer fee: the league does. I know Red Bull is really miffed at the whole Jozy situation. No ownership group or team is really allowed to step out of the model or conformity forced on them by the league office. No commentator can do so also and information is controlled the way Pravda and the Politboro controlled the flow of information in the old Soviet Union.

    In USL, teams can spend what they want and sell players on. Scouting has brought some real international gems to USL/A-League clubs the last several years.

    I think MLS’ DP rule should have been sunset after one year. Now no emphasis is put on developing players and simply put the league wants to buy players to bring $$$$ in to expand and make the initial investors all of whom have lost lots of money in the 12 years the league has existed happy. So that’s why we’ve gone from 3 to 12 owners.

    I hate to agree with Kartik also on the finances. It’s fishy to say the least and I also suspect the SUM events are what are balancing the books.

    This all having been said Kartik’s wacky views on the state of the national team make it tough to take his side in a debate of any kind. But here on MLS he in sadly right.

  18. Brian says:

    I wonder how all of this compares to similar international tournaments at the moment such as Wimbledon?

    Soccer has come a long way in the US and I hope tomorrow’s viewing figures will reflect that.

  19. eplnfl says:

    Well said Brian. The problems of MLS aside, soccer has come a long way. June has lately become soccer’s month in the US, well said and a excellent perspective Kartik, now how can we add 5 more months on! In part, tune in to ABC on Sunday.

  20. eplnfl says:

    stay with this video beyond the opening for some comedic insight on American’s and soccer but note that he says we are watching;

    http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/22825103/vp/25411708#25411708

  21. Todd says:

    eplnfl- those are the same lip service sound bits that we got on jim rome, around the horn and PTI. i can say the lines verbatim, its like a press release anymore.

    “i get it, its an entertaining sport. weird, it didnt finish 0-0. its unamerican. how can you end in penalties, its like deciding the NBA finals with a free throw shooting contest. they are pussies who dive. america isnt good at it. soccer fan in america is too snobby. ill never get it”

  22. CFTV says:

    FYI 55 of the 58 ABC TV stations that have overnight meter market service are airing the MLS Game tomorrow between LA and DC in full tomorrow. WMUR in Boston/Manchester will JIP at 1pm following This Week with George S. KSAT in San Antonio and KTUL will JIP the game at 12pm because they air local religous programming from 11am to 12pm on Sundays.

  23. Kartik says:

    Yeah that video and the mentality sickens me.

    The funny thing is with Rome it is an act. Around the time of the 1994 World Cup he was talking it up because the final was SoCal and with his west coast bias it was something he could claim LA had an NY or Chicago didn’t. So he either turned a blind eye to then to his hatred of the game or “developed it” later to get ratings.

  24. Kartik says:

    It’s also a disgrace that Jim Rome besmirches the name of the greatest civilization and city state this world has ever known: Rome. He doesn’t deserve that name.

  25. betsy's bolton bum baster says:

    ESPN has plenty of holes (spelled H-O-L-E, no ‘W’) in their schedule during PL season. The game times are normally early morning on Saturdays. They can definitely broadcast before a college football game which usually begins noon on Saturdays. Also the midweek games are always 3pm so they don’t have anything on television during that time. The Sunday games might be a problem with the NFL but if they create ‘ESPN 3′ it won’t be a problem.

  26. Stan says:

    The problem with Kartik’s opinions is that they are spun to fit into the prior prism of MLS being basically beneath him (including his belief that the single-entity system is preventing it being a better league, which there’s no real reason to believe).

    For instance, the claim that 1996′s talent is arguably better than today’s. One couldn’t possibly hold this opinion unless one were *only* looking at the top 10-20 players, about 1-2 per team. On that level, it’s debatable, but once one looks at entire rosters for the whole league, it’s clear that teams are much better today.

    1996 also drew better only for about 6 weeks of novelty effect and pent-up demand for soccer. MLS’s attendances are much firmer and predictably stronger today.

  27. Sanjay says:

    I just find it odd to see Kartik accused of being anti-MLS and in some cases anti- USMNT. Because, quite honestly, I feel that at times Kartik is the exact opposite. In fact I think in the past I’ve asked him not to be so pro-MLS on some of his other blogs..

  28. US Fan says:

    Well, it’s now clear that Kartik is most likely a USL fan.
    Funny thing is, the top USL team, Seattle Sounders, is leaving that league and hopping into MLS starting next season.
    The Toronto USL franchise shut down two years ago when Toronto FC joined MLS.
    The owners of two other USL teams, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, are courting MLS and getting ready to start the paperwork for joining MLS within 2-4 years.
    Ditto for Montreal!

    So, why in the world would these USL teams jump over to a weaker league(MLS)??

  29. US Fan says:

    And Kartik, get your facts straight(again): A DP will not bankrupt the league because… are you ready?… MLS is liable ONLY for the first $400k of the DP’s salary. The rest comes out of the billionaire owners’ pockets.
    This isn’t the NASL.

  30. Kartik says:

    US Fan,

    Your typical of someone who is in love with MLS. I want the league to succeed but am realistic. As someone who saw my team contracted and have found much of the other spin coming from the league office to be questionable I take a more open view.

    Truth be told I like MLS quality better than USL. Who wouldn’t like a first division over a second division? But I think USL is more proper business. Umbro owns the league and we have an actual idea of its finances. MLS is so secretive about things and as someone said above they aren’t exactly friendly to journalists about stories and issues related to the league.

    Sure this isn’t the NASL. I’ve said before many times that MLS was so adverse to any association with the NASL that they ignored all the positives of the NASL (like team nicknames, the value of high priced foreigners in their prime) and now have begun to repeat the mistakes of the NASL like blatant over expansion and over paying for players.

    Do you really believe bringing Marcello Gallardo (who I do happen to like as a player) has done anything to increase attendance? What about the other non Blanco/Beckham DPs? What is the real attendance like when you take out doubleheader games and 4th of July fireworks shows?

    Why did MLS and Don Garber rip South Florida as a soccer market publically repeatedly until they decided they wanted back in down here and then started making excuses about the failure of the Fusion. Perhaps we didn’t schedule enough doubleheaders like New England and New York have done for 13 years to satisfy the league the first go round.

    Again I want MLS to succeed but to simply assume everything they do is right and USL is a garbage second division is not responsible. I do know as I have told you that some USL owners in decent sized markets (not the ones in Seattle or Vancouver obviously, and Charleston and Rochester are not part of this discussion because those markets are too small for first division football) have decided to stay put and see what changes USL brings the next few years. I’ve been told this by people as close to the situation as possible. Perhaps they are making a business mistake. I even told one person that his boss was making a stupid mistake before thinking it over myself and realizing MLS may have financial issues 3-5 years down the road and sticking in USL for now if Nike comes through rather than paying the franchise fee for MLS may be a good thing. Again it may be a mistake and as you correctly point out USL has issues with its management structure and stability. But I am merely saying their are two sides to this story.
    MLS had opportunities early in its history that they blew. I think anyone objective would agree with that. The assumption in Europe was MLS would be a player pretty quickly and that the quality of the league would improve rapidly which it did not. No one, least myself expected to see the likes Danny Califf and Nate Jaqua have to flee MLS because the league isn’t willing to pay our own mid level domestic players what they can make overseas. That in itself is a disservice to the US Soccer culture and its continued development.

  31. betsy's bolton bum baster says:

    Kartik you really need to learn to stop writing essays and be more concise with your responses. Nobody has the time to read through all that.

  32. anonymous says:

    Kartik, what is you solution for making the MLS popular then, if you’re against expansion and DP’s?

  33. CFTV says:

    I think its cool that our mid level domestic players are testing the waters in Europe. There is something to be said about having the sense of adventure and belief in yourself that you can go to Europe and make it as a professional soccer player. Even for players going over for a couple of years it has to be pretty cool to play in a club atmosphere where fans live and die with every win and loss for their club. The MLS is always a fallback for the guys that don’t make it. I will admit that it does suck when our players go over the pond and don’t feature for their teams but at the same time they are getting an experience of a lifetime to live and train where the game is a lot bigger in the sports landscape than here in the States. I like the MLS but when I watch games I don’t get the same live and die vibe that I get when I am watching games in other countries. There is a lot more to play for and the games are bigger in context than games in the MLS.

  34. CFTV says:

    I enjoy reading Kartik’s posts as he provides a lot of well thought content to this site! I don’t agree with all of it but I like reading his opinions in agreement and in disagreement.

    Keep the posts of any length coming, bro………………….

  35. Stan says:

    The mistake in Tampa was ever bringing a team to Tampa without an owner willing to make a significant upfront investment.

    The reason USL can attract owners is that it doesn’t require an upfront commitment, but here’s the nasty surprise–RUNNING THE TEAM STILL DOES. This is why many, many teams come into USL, and many, many teams also go out.

    Including Tampa’s old ASL team.

  36. T Rex says:

    Kartik’s essay which isn’t worth reading doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is MLS claiming they will only put new teams in stadiums which are soccer specific and then awarding Seattle a franchise and also allowing so much play on turf when we should be going the other direction. While Kartik may be extreme in his views at time I do have to say the changing of league policy regarding stadiums and the embrace of turf looks to me like alleged above a cash grab to benefit the original investors.

  37. Kartik says:

    Look guys, I am glad we have so much interest in US Soccer/MLS here. I thought everyone who posted here was what I call a Eurosnob. Watch United today take the Gals to task and we can save this discussion which is very valid for my blog which is linked on my name. Also, I encourage anyone with a dissenting opinion to write me at kartik@csrnusa.com if you’d like to discuss your views on MLS Talk or CSRN’s American Soccer Show.

  38. eplnfl says:

    First, I want to back Kartik for what he has done to increase the popularity of the MLS and US Socccer in general. Well done, and the MLS and the USSF should express their thanks and appreciation to you. Second, you have expressed your displeasure with the MLS for leaving South Florida and you make no secret about that. So, those of us here that say you harbor disdain for the MLS should realize that as a fan they let you down. You have acknowledged that. You have a right to be upset and express it.

    As to what can be done, it would be a better plan for MLS to hire 2 or 3 well known names to attract the causal fan, ie: Beckham, who will attract fans when they are playing and TV attention. Put them in key markets. Top 3 media markets, will do. Have the league pay for them or somehow share their costs. Spend your money on keeping the mid-level American’s who are are going to Europe, ie: Beasely, Bradley, Howard, etc. home. In this way you have headliner names(limited) but a solid base of Americans to draw in the average fan.

  39. Kartik says:

    Hopefully ESPN/ABC will not make today’s game a “Euro Final Preview Show.”

    Becks is feeling low with many of his mates competing in the Euros but today is a day for him to rekindle his interest and learn once again why RFK is MLS’ best venue.

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