This Saturday night in Singapore, New Delhi, Beijing and Sydney, the sounds of TV sets blaring Arsenal and Manchester United will be heard when the game will be televised live during prime time in Asia and at midnight down under.
For TV producers in Asia and Australasia, it’s a dream come true. Two of the Premier League’s biggest supported sides battling against each other. Last season, one billion people worldwide reportedly watched the match. This year, that number could reach even higher.
For viewers in the United States, the kickoff time isn’t as copacetic. On the west coast, the game will be shown live at 4:45am PT, while it can be viewed on the east coast at 7:45am ET. Perhaps even more crucial for U.S. viewers, the game is only available on Setanta Sports, which is not available on most cable networks.
It’s a shame the game wasn’t on Fox Soccer Channel. Otherwise we could learn how many people watched the game in the States.
For example, the early October game between Manchester City and Liverpool drew 224,000 viewers on Fox. Quite an impressive number when you consider that ESPN2’s average was 253,000 for MLS games in the 2008 season. And ESPN2’s televised broadcasts were during primetime on a network that is in 96 million homes compared with 30 million homes for FSC.
We’ll have to wait until the next massive game on Fox Soccer Channel, which isn’t until Sunday, November 30th when Chelsea plays Arsenal at 11am ET.
While TV ratings for Premier League matches in the United States are climbing, ESPN2’s TV ratings for MLS games have decreased by 12.5% from an average of 289,000 in 2007 to 253,000 in 2008. Fox Soccer Channel’s MLS TV ratings, meanwhile, have averaged a depressing 40,000 viewers per broadcast.