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US-Mexico Smashes Viewership Records

sven in columbus 300x265 US Mexico Smashes Viewership Records

The Revolution is being televised. Despite almost constant hostility from significant elements of the mainstream media (including basketball announcers on ESPN who it seem deliberately mispronounce the names of football teams and players during the lead into MLS or National Team matches) Wednesday’s US-Mexico match shattered all sorts of record. In short a lot of eyes focused on a medium sized Ohio town this past Wednesday.

Jack Bell from the GOAL! blog at the NY Times broke the news:

ESPN and Univision both set records for viewership during Wednesday night’s United States-Mexico World Cup qualifying match in Columbus, Ohio.

The match, won by the United States, was seen in an average of 794,800 homes (1.2 million viewers) on ESPN2. It was the most-watched World Cup qualifier among the 26 matches ESPN2 has carried over the years. ESPN2 showed the game from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern. In addition, the network’s Spanish-language channel, ESPN Deportes, 192,000 viewers for its pregame show and 223,000 for its postgame edition.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the game on Univision, the Spanish-language network was seen in part or in its entirety by 10.7 million viewers and was watched by more people than any other sporting event in the history of Spanish-language television, the network said in a news release. Bear in mind that Univision, in addition to being carried by many cable systems, is also available over the air, while ESPN2 is a cable-only channel.

Beyond the Hispanic market, Univision was the No. 1 destination during the match’s two-hour time period among adults and men 18 to 49 years old in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco and Sacramento; and in all households in Los Angeles, Houston and Phoenix.

The game also exceeded the viewership of all first-run England-language prime time shows (such as “American Idol,” “Lost,” “Law & Order” and CSI: New York”) among men 18-49 in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Phoenix and Dallas.

Given the failure of MLS on both ESPN and Univision owned channels this news comes as a major relief. Univision owns the rights to many FMF games in the US, but not the Mexican National Team, whose US rights are owned by Telemundo. The US National Team has continued to draw much stronger viewership even for friendlies than MLS draws even for playoff matches, a source confirmed to me, Friday. For example the source mentioned that the friendly in Glendale Arizona in February 2007 between the US and Mexico was ESPN2 highest rated prime time weekday program in the first quarter of that year.

This game was massive, no doubt. But the continued high viewership numbers for national team games versus any MLS telecast has much to do with the psyche of the American public. Jingoism has returned stateside since 9/11 in a way not seen since the end of the Cold War. Football, the ultimate international sporting event appeals to this raw American instinct on the national team level and not the MLS level.

For Mexican fans, the FMF continues to be the center of weekly football life, but much like in England, the national team brings out a casual fan who doesn’t watch football every weekend, and much like in England, these Mexican fans simply assume their nation is the best in the world, or at the very least the best in the region.

All the elements of made for TV viewing were found on Wednesday night. Mexico vs USA is the ultimate CONCACAF derby match but also now a field day for advertisers and television executives.

This entry was posted in ESPN, Leagues: Major League Soccer, US vs Mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

13 Responses to US-Mexico Smashes Viewership Records

  1. eplnfl says:

    This is another big victory for the American soccer fan. Ultimately increased viewership for the national team leads to greater interest in domestic soccer as a whole. I thought that the MLS Thursday night game was the wrong night to attract a large audience. The last third of the schedule was up against NCAA Football which is an audience hog. There was no major sports programming up against the US-Mexico match and if future US games are planned to avoid other major American sports ratings will remain high.

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  3. John says:

    MLS will never get this kind of viewership. I know countless friends who watch the nats regularly but will never even give MLS another shot. They’ve quit on the league. It’s USMNT or no soccer for them.

  4. chris says:

    “MLS will never get this kind of viewership. I know countless friends who watch the nats regularly but will never even give MLS another shot. They’ve quit on the league. It’s USMNT or no soccer for them. ”

    Then they are idiots!
    The better our domestic league is the better the MNT will be! Oh don’t think so? Tell me the name of the European club that was after Clint Dempsey when he was at Furman University? He was found by the Revs, given an a chance to shine by the Revs and sold because of his play in MLS! Michael Bradley? Boca? Howard?. The better the league is the more they can find these guys and turn them into professional soccer players, then they can go to Europe and develop more.
    The league needs your friends support, and tell them to watch MLS games from ’96 and compare them to now. The league is going in the right direction but it needs your friends to watch and attend games to keep improving and keep building players for our National team.

  5. Enrique says:

    The fact that ESPN does not know how to promote MLS and the league itself does not do a good job with maketing makes it more difficult to make it attractive. I know in MLS we don’t have the quality to make the league as attractive as others, but there is a big gap in the way that other sports are marketed and MLS. Look at the job they do with the Champions League and the Euro to the job the do with Amercian soccer, it’s seemst that they don’t even try to make it work.

    In ESPN specially, they attack it and don’t have enough knowledgeable to people to counter and give the objectivism needed. I’ve seen the anchors make fun of it when they mention it. This is just completely unacceptable when you are trying to promote. Than they wonder why the people who do know about soccer don’t watch ESPN. They don’t do this with the X-games, WNBA, bowling, poker and the rest of the sports they put on the backburner. Just look at the way they handled the Beckham situation, every single time they put it on they put highlights of Beckham completely not playing well, like he is done and not saying anything objective. First Take on ESPN 2 had Tommy Smith and as always the interview was terrible and he did the best he could. This shows the lack of commitment towards soccer.

    Television is the most powerful tool when it comes to marketing to this day, images are geared to sell you something and they make soccer unsellable. Hopefully with these ratings help to change their minds.

  6. Soccer Guru says:

    So Chris, the majority of USMNT fans are idiots? The majority of USMNT watchers do NOT watch MLS on regular basis. That’s why such a disparity exists in TV ratings for both products. As proof last year their was a USMNT friendly on ESPN Classic that garnered more viewers than the MLS Cup on ABC. Classic is probably in less than half the homes ABC is in. Of the 12 million viewers that watched this game on Wednesday, about 11.3 million did not watch MLS Cup. So they are all idiots it must be assumed.

  7. Chris says:

    So Chris, the majority of USMNT fans are idiots? The majority of USMNT watchers do NOT watch MLS on regular basis. That’s why such a disparity exists in TV ratings for both products. As proof last year their was a USMNT friendly on ESPN Classic that garnered more viewers than the MLS Cup on ABC. Classic is probably in less than half the homes ABC is in. Of the 12 million viewers that watched this game on Wednesday, about 11.3 million did not watch MLS Cup. So they are all idiots it must be assumed.

    Yes,
    I do not believe that by only watching MNT games that people are truly supporting the sport. I noticed that you never countered any of my arguments, just the idiot part. Tell me something of the twelve million who watched how many were Mexican? 1.2 million on ESPN2 compared to 800,000 for the Cup means that the 400,00 eurosnobs like yourself? tuned in. I love the BPL but I realize it is more important to support the Revs than Arsenal if i want the USMNT to improve.

  8. Soccer Guru says:

    Chris, I get your point. Trust me I do. The problem is many of the people you are calling eurosnobs didn’t start out that way. Many watched MLS in the early days. I still watch MLS, but understand that the product wasn’t acceptable for many.

    The eurosnobs tend to not even watch the USMNT but cheer for England, Italy or Spain’s national teams. Those are the true eurosnobs or wanna be eurotrash as I call them.

  9. Soccer Guru says:

    Another thing Chris, don’t simply assume every english speaking US fan watches the games on ESPN. I always watch the games on Galavision or Univision and I do not know Spanish. ESPN’s production stinks and their announcers insult the intelligence of someone who actually knows the game, and plus I don’t want hockey scores scrolling on the bottom while I am trying to watch a serious game.

  10. Chris says:

    Another thing Chris, don’t simply assume every english speaking US fan watches the games on ESPN. I always watch the games on Galavision or Univision and I do not know Spanish. ESPN’s production stinks and their announcers insult the intelligence of someone who actually knows the game, and plus I don’t want hockey scores scrolling on the bottom while I am trying to watch a serious game.

    Oh, I realize that, it’s just that to state 12 million and not acknowledge that a majority of viewers are Mexican and follow the FMF instead of MLS as more of a logical reason why they watch this match and not MLS Cup.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Chris

    Your idea of US fans supporting the MLS might have worked out in the age of communism or the pre PC / multiculturalism USA

    I support the US NT because this is my home now. MLS has to carry the burden of improving the main product before I deem it worthy of my free time. I

  12. Chris says:

    Jonathan,
    When will the league be up to your standards? How will the league get up to your high standards if US soccer fans do not support the league? This is not blind support, I want the league to succeed by improving on and off the field and I will always point out what the league lacks. I simply believe that supporting the league, our league will be the catalyst for improvement rather than by ignoring it and hoping that it might produce MNT talent.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Chris

    There’s this clear, but difficult to state line when MLS play is good enough Note that football viewing time is in competition with other non football alternative (films, concerts, video games, life, napping, etc)

    The point is, the national team and MLS are completely different matters. One is a for profit entity while the other exists for the purpose of representing the US.

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