MLS Cup Ratings Fall: A Call to Action


This past Sunday’s MLS Cup Final on ABC received a 0.7 Nielsen rating. Last year’s final between Houston and New England received a 0.8 rating. From my vantage point this is a disappointing number considering the game started at 3:30 PM ET instead of 12:30 PM ET as it did last year and it featured a team from the nation’s largest media market. Even more disappointing is the reality of the situation for MLS: that only about one fourth of the viewers who watched the Euro 2008 final on ABC tuned in for the cup final of our domestic league. In fact this 0.7 rating is lower than the average ABC received when showing regular season MLS games between 1996 and 2000. In that period of time European football was not as accessible via cable and satellite TV as it is today, and MLS arguably had more stars of international note: the likes of Carlos Valderrama, Roberto Donadoni, and Lothar Matthaeus among others. MLS at the time represented perhaps the only consistent viewing option for football fans aside from the two hour Fox Sports Net EPL recap show hosted by the wise cracking Lionel Bienvenu.

In the past I have editorialized against the Euro-snobic tendencies of futbolistas in the United States. These fans would rather watch a game between Spain and Germany which has little relevance or meaning domestically than the MLS Cup, USL or NCAA Soccer. Many of these fans complain about the lack of mainstream media coverage of the sport we all love when they do not make the effort to support the sport in its indigenous American form. I have my numerous issues and complaints with MLS, but not watching the MLS Cup or following the playoffs is not an option from where I sit. Honestly, I feel the same way about college soccer, the USL and the youth national teams. It’s important to support the sport at all levels in this country if we are really to become a football loving and playing nation of some note.


6 thoughts on “MLS Cup Ratings Fall: A Call to Action”

  1. I agree 100%, granted the product isn’t always the best. Even though there are compelling matches. The league needs support from fans, in order for the media to take notice. I want to believe the league is making progress, even though we don’t always see it. Hopefully, more rabid fan bases like Seattle looks to be, and the addition of Philly in 2010, will continue to grow culture of MLS and soccer in the US. With fans comes media attention, which in turn drives more fans and talent development.

    I am hopeful that people will support their local teams, MLS, college, USL, (a live product is usually better) and grow with the game in the US.

  2. this will be one of those rare times I agree with Kartik. I like to describe myself as a “big tent” sport and soccer fan. I like soccer, but I also dig other sports; I like the foreign game, but I like MLS too. If I want soccer to be successful, I’ll support it in any form. I can’t stand those people that say their fans, and want the US to be successful, but then turn their noses up at the domestic game and development. I don’t call them “eurosnobs”, I call them “shortsighted and ignorant”.

  3. I think soccer fans in the U.S. should make more of an effort to support MLS in the United States. But, I think MLS’ problem is more not drawing casual sports fans than not drawing soccer fans. It’s much easier to get those fans to watch the Euro final with players they have heard of.

    Part of it may be overcoming a soccer bias, but maybe some of that could have been overcome by not going head to head with the NFL on Sunday.

  4. Did you factor in the Nielsen rating for the spanish language broadcast on Telefutura? That’s where I tuned in even though I can’t understand it(as usual, but they are excited, compact, just saying who has the ball) and I’m sure it’s another 0.7 for a 1.4 total. Frankly, the only decent commentary we’ve ever had was the Euro 2008 coverage from ESPN. Until that standard is maintained, I’d rather just mute it than listen to the native commentary.

  5. After watching a gritty Barcelona v Getafe game, I could only watch through the first half of the final. It bored me, there was too much fouling, physical play was used needlessly, and players couldn’t string more than 3 passes. I went to do some grocery shopping instead.

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