ESPN Reveals TV Ratings For EPL Debut Of Chelsea v Hull City


The TV ratings are in for ESPN2’s opening game of the 2009/2010 Premier League season, which featured Chelsea against Hull City. And the results are pretty decent especially considering that EPL Talk didn’t break the news until 7:46pm ET on the night before the game. Plus, the fact that the game kicked off at 7:45 ET on a Saturday morning.

According to an ESPN spokesperson, the game scored a 0.2 rating with 159,948 household impressions and a total viewing audience of 164,485.

This is a far better number than Fox Soccer Channel’s average number of viewers per Premier League match of 90,000. And it’s better than the number of people who watched the FA Cup Final on Fox featuring Chelsea against Everton.

In comparison to similar coverage on ESPN2, the network’s previous Thursday night rating for Major League Soccer games fell recently and averaged a 0.2 rating, which was watched in an average of 251,000 homes weekly.

ESPN2’s impressive Premier League debut this season is an encouraging beginning for the Disney-owned network. And with this Saturday’s featured match between Wigan Athletic versus Manchester United at a more convenient time of 10am ET, we’ll see whether the ESPN soccer juggernaut can continue to impress especially on the back of a massive United fanbase in the United States.

What are your thoughts regarding the TV ratings that the Chelsea versus Hull City game garnered? Were they higher or lower than you anticipated? Click the comments link below to share your feedback.

One more thing. Here’s a video of ESPN UK’s opening to the Premier League season from last weekend to give you a taste of how ESPN is presenting football to the public in the United Kingdom. ESPN had the good fortune of featuring Everton against Arsenal as the opening game of their 46-game package this season. Over to presenter Ray Stubbs:

In other news, I missed Fox’s launch of their Champions League coverage today due to business meetings, so head on over to our sister Major League Soccer Talk for a review of Fox’s Champions League debut penned by Kartik Krishnaiyer.

91 thoughts on “ESPN Reveals TV Ratings For EPL Debut Of Chelsea v Hull City”

      1. Hi Drew, not sure about the TV ratings for the hunting and fishing programs they typically run in the same time slot. I’m sure the Premier League ratings are much higher, but I don’t have access to Nielsen ratings to prove either way.

        I updated the article to mention how the ratings compare to MLS on a Thursday prime-time evening. At this rate, an early Saturday morning game will undoubtedly trounce the MLS ratings.

        The Gaffer

        1. Thanks Gaffer

          I have Canadian satellite and I thought the coverage for the Celtic game with Sportsnet was not good.

          The pre and half time show was bad. After a few minutes of having no logo they put a time/score/sportsnet logo that is way too big at the top of the screen.

          There was no commentators for the fist 20 minutes (after that they came on but it took them another 20 minutes to figure out the right balance between the crowd noise & commentators. It was actually much better with the crowd noise alone for the first 20 minutes, you could really feel the energy.

          The half time show sucked and they did not show the 2nd half until 30 seconds into it.

          1. Gaffer,

            I’ve had an evening to gather my thoughts and I need to vent to someone who may understand.

            1) I’ll agree with some, that the pregame with Bretos, McMahon, and Barton shows promise. However, a few things, like why on earth is there a big picture of Lionel Messi in the background of the set? It’s little production values like this seem to make it less professional feeling.

            2) How can they keep the studio show on FSC with the game that isn’t marquee. So, while FSC had studio analysis for Sheriff-Olympiakos, Arsenal-Celtic had some guy who wouldnt shut his mouth, regurgitating the same 10 stats he a) read at the beginning of the broadcast and b) we already heard from the studio pregame show. Can they not either produce the studio show for the marquee match, or USE SKY SPORTS’ COVERAGE!!?

            3) This guy talking through the 15 minutes leading to kick-off just blathered on, not shutting up for the usual poignant tv moment of a rousing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” rendition from the Celtic Park supporters. Then they decided to roll out the techno music while they went through the line-ups with a live crowd backdrop.

            4) Why must they cut away to 10 second Heineken spots at every single turn, is Fox contracted to this? They showed Heineken spots 4 times as much as ESPN ever did, and it really disrupted the flow of the broadcast at times.

            5) The score bar was huge, getting in the way of the action at times.

            6) After all of everything, is a US broadcaster of the Champions League still going to be unable to show manager interviews and comments after Champions League matches?

            7) The audio was offset the entire night. Players kicking the ball were a clear 1-2 seconds ahead of the sound of the kick. (may sound picky, but its something Im accustomed to watching on the internet at times, but should NOT EXPERIENCE DURING AN HD BROADCAST!)

            Overall, Im not ungrateful for the coverage, and the fact that it was in HD goes a long way. But I have to say, it is these little bits that makes the broadcast look and feel amaturish, and after all the hoopla building up to it, they jost dont seem to be able to be taking basic lessons to heart. I don’t suppose they will get it totally right, but when you figure that pretty soon ESPN will show their UK coverage here on ESPN 2 for the Monday afternoon kick-offs, why on earth can’t FSC/Fox sports net show SkySports produced football broadcasts?

            (Thanks for allowing me to rant)

  1. Not bad, I expect them to go up when ESPN starts promoting.

    What’s up with the games still not being on the guide? I still have Fishing and what not for 10am Sat.

    1. I heard and read mostly positive reviews of ESPN’s coverage, which is a massive achievement for the broadcaster given the incredibly short period of time they had to start from scratch after Setanta UK’s recent demise.

      Analyst Peter Reid mistakenly called Mario Fellaini “Fellini,” but other than that, ESPN did a stellar job.

      The Gaffer

  2. I got up for it. I was greatly satisfied. Learned a lot about Stepehen Hunt. I expect this weekend to get anywhere from .5-1.0 range. I’d be also intersted in the Champions League ratings too.

    1. You are overly optimistic.

      One would be very surprised if EPL on ESPN2 (US) were to get more than 0.250-0.349% (i.e. 0.3% after rounding) of households to tune in, i.e. 250,000 to 350,000 households.

  3. Do these ratings take in account tivo and dvr? The match kicked off at 6:45 AM here in the central time zone and there is no way I am getting up that early on Saturday. I ended up watching it around 10 AM.

    1. When I did a nielsen survey it allowed for recorded programs. The DVR’ing is different to the people that buy the nielsen ratings – advertisers as you can ffwd.

  4. Yes, remember it was at 4:45 am on the left coast… There was no advance notice (even the commercials at half time were “outdoorsman” related, kind of weird)… In fact, I had it on a few minutes before they came on the air and to my horror, I had to witness some idiot pulling the trigger on a turkey… Ouch!

    It was such a site to see Stamford Bridge in all her glory in crystal clear HD, I hope this really turns the screws on FSC (and Setanta who haven’t lowered their price per month despite losing some matches) to get their sh*t together and match the quality visual product ESPN2 finally showed us!

    By the way, although the next three games on ESPN2 are not yet listed on my DirecTV menu yet, they are listed on the ESPN Website here:

  5. Wow, I hope ESPN does that for their PL coverage here.

    I thought that was amazing. ESPN does a great job and that was very similar to what they do here with Football and Baseball. They give it that larger than life feeling. It was very ESPN and yet, still very in tone with a British presentation.

  6. Nielsen uses a box placed in specific households to measure ratings. These households are selected to give a respresentative sample of US households. So it only measures households that have the Nielsen box.

    Ratings are not compiled from how many TV’s are tuned into a broadcast, but how many within the sample are.

    If I would guess, a DVR is technically watching the program.

  7. I’m confused.

    The EPL game on ESPN2 scored a 0.2 rating with 159,948 household impressions and a total viewing audience of 164,485.
    In comparison to similar coverage on ESPN2 … Major League Soccer games fell recently and averaged a 0.2 rating, which was watched in an average of 251,000 homes weekly.

    How can the same rating, 0.2, on the same network, ESPN2, yield different viewer numbers?

    1. Probably has to do with total # viewers in a given time slot… This game was very early AM, thus a smaller audience pool to draw from…

    2. An 0.2% household rating could be anywhere between 0.150% and 0.249% after rounding to one decimal place.

      160,000 households (roughly 0.15%) and 251,000 houseolds (roughly 0.24%) will both produce an 0.2% household rating after rounding.

  8. Not bad for 8 AM EST. I’ve always hated Nielsen ratings, to be honest, as I just feel that it doesn’t represent enough of the population.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you have to agree/sign up to become a Nielsen household? I just have a hard time believing some times that only those certain households had the game on at one time or another. I know I’m not a Nielsen household, so does that mean I’m not accounted for? What about college campus’ ? I watched the Champions League all year last year at college, does that mean I wasn’t figured in?

    It’s just puzzling and annoying at the same time as I want to see recognition and growth in the beautiful game here in the US.

    1. That’s why shows like Arrested Development fail. A lot of shows have huge cult followings and they are watched under different circumstances. A whole college campus of 30,000 students could be watching and that would count as a few households. You’re figured in but not entirely.

  9. I’m not gonna lie, that intro by ESPN just gave me goosebumps. That was 100% ESPN right there, the one thing ESPN (and CBS) get right is the set up for their higher focused events: Super Bowl, NCAA (F & BB), and NFL. They usually have an intro that knocks the socks off the viewers and then great lead in footage.

    1. True, except the intro was not produced by ESPN. It was just the generic int’l feed lead-in.

      I loved the build-up to the game, the fact that the bottom-screen crawl only popped up every 20 minutes –

      But I fear, both these things had more to do with the fact that final rights were negotiated right before the game.

      Once ESPN has a bit more time to prepare, they will fill the lead-up with commercials and probably bring back the constant crawl. I hope I’m wrong.

  10. Signal was great HD
    I love it
    Hope transmit more games.
    pogram guide not updted for DVR recordng? Have to improve transmition

  11. No brainer, but ESPN simply needs to promote the product more to get better ratings. You can’t advertise it soley through the ESPN news ticker.

    1. Yeah…I’m currently searching the ESPN site and after 10 minutes I still have absolutely no clue what matches (if any) will be on today and what will be on this weekend. What a joke. Soccernet has always been a terrible, disorganized mess, but I would hope they would at least make a solid effort to advertise their new soccer coverage.

  12. First class presentation,and a credit to ESPN.Considering Hull City are not a household name (yet) in the premier league, the rating should be very acceptable,One point I cannot remember the commentator saying Boaz Myhill Hull City goalkeeper was American also hull City had just signed fellow American Altidore the scorer for the US against Spain last month

  13. ESPN absolutely blows away Fox.

    FSC is about the most amateur station out there. Everything I’ve seen them do in the last 5 years reeks of minor leagues. I never understood all the ESPN bashing and panic when it was revealed they were looking at getting the EPL. There one EPL game they’ve done so far was better than anything FSC has done. Ever.

    PS – another thing that makes me laugh about FSC….what’s with the disclaimer at the beginning of Fox Football Phone In? Does ESPN run a disclaimer about the opinions of Wilbon and Kornheiser every day before PTI? Or about Lupica on Sports Reporters Sunday morning? Seriously, it’s comical how they do that.

  14. Espn should offer a real HD channel at 1080i. Many people don’t realize that the espn so called “HD” is not true HD it’s upconverted SD (standard defintion). Shame on espn a huge company like that should be able to offer a true HD channel not this rubbish. I’m glad to hear that FSC HD will be offered in true HD the way it should be shown.

    PS- Espn please remove that annoying ticker at the bottom of the screen-totally- I really don’t care to see last night’s baseball scores during a live EPL game!

    1. that was true of the cl matches on espn2 bar the final. the match on saturday was what you call “true hd”. in fact, the hd signal fsn received was poor compared to the espn 2 hd signal. in my set and a couple of my mates.

    1. i got rid of setanta-i rip off.
      1. no early staurday or monday afternoon kick off now on espn
      2. No more live champions league.
      3. No more free PPV for annual subscribers ( england away games)
      4.they used to have 2 10’oclock kick off games prior to setanta-i now they have one.
      5. customer support sucks balls…dose not exist..
      6. No football matters and new Special1 TV
      7. same price for half the service…
      please add to list…

  15. @Peter James

    You obviously have no ideea what you are talking about.

    First off, 1080i is NOT full HD.
    Secondly, 720p is better then 1080i for fast movement sports coverege (I will not go into a 1080i vs 720p debate here. google it)
    Thirdly: there is not 1080p “full HD” broadcasting yet

    ESPN’s HD coverage is perfect @ 720p 60fps. Thank you ESPN!

    1. Why does everyone refer to espn HD as Espn HD Lite? Lol, 720 is better than 1080i? I’ve never heard of that in my life! Glad to hear that you are “satisfied” but nope not me. ABC(espn) has choosen 760p while NBC has gone with 1080i. Please check your facts.

      1. Peter,

        You have no idea what you’re talking about. 720p is essentially equivalent to 1080i, the key is the p (for progressive frames) and i (for interlaced frames). For something as fast moving as sports, progressive is a much smoother picture. The ultimate picture is 1080p, but we are still a couple years away from being able to watch a broadcast channel in 1080p.

        1. Indeed, when showing sports in 1080i, most broadcasters process the footage to blur the picture (since the interlacing makes stuff that’s moving quickly look jagged)…

          When you take the blurring into account, the effective resolution of 1080i can be as bad as 540 pixels.

  16. Does anyone know what FSC is doing with the CL coverage? What games do they put on Comcast SportsNet, Fox Sports Net, etc and what games do they show on FSC?

    1. They are showing games on FSC, FoxSports Net, Fox Sports en Espanol, Direct TV exclusive and a game will be on Setanta. If you’re lucky enough to have DirectTV you can see all these games including a mix channel.

      The audio feed comes from the int’l feed (although there was a small technical glitch that prevented this for the first 20 min of the Celtic-Arsenal game) –

      I agree that the studio show on FSC should preferably carry over to the days marquee game on Fox Sports Net – but it does not – so they need to figure something out there –

      It also should be noted that the games become available in HD by early next year on FSC –

      This coverage is much better than what was provided by ESPN in my opinion. A very impressive start (with a few glitches) –

  17. Just saw the ESPN Soccer commercial promoting the Man UTd match this weekend during Mike and Mike in the morning! Can’t wait, couldn’t find it on youtube yet, but it ran through that Saturday’s would be EPL and Sunday’s for La Liga, and showed highlights with big players from both sides. This should boost ratings too. My comcast guide hasn’t been updated yet, but the guide on shows the game Saturday morning

  18. Considering at least half the nation was asleep and even the other half was relatively uninformed of the event, that rating is excellent.

    I expect next Saturday to be much better for ESPN2.

    I agree that FSC’s production is normally rinky-dink (the studio work is especially appalling) I think all-in-all they did very well with the Champions League yesterday. The Celtic-Arsenel match was in HD or at least well-upgraded SD so it looked terrific on FoxSports.

    Studio show was much better, but still quite poor in comparison to ESPN’s.

    For some reason FoxSoccer and FoxSports outside of the main FoxNetwork seem like they are drawn from local sports studios of the early 70s.

    But still, considering the scope of the areas they had to cover and especially in comparison to yes, how ESPN covered it, I thought they did great.

    Now if ESPN will start advertising the EPL a bit more (I haven’t seen a commercial yet or an acknowledgment on SportsCenter) that will make me happier.

  19. Totally just saw a commercial advertising the best soccer in the world is now on ESPN. it was for the manure game on saturday.

  20. I also saw Chelsea Sunderland highlights last night on ESPNNews. FSC can’t be liking this, although I would prefer FSC to match production and succeed as a Soccer only channel is just that, only Soccer!

  21. I’d say the 0.2 rating is fantastic considering they didn’t make an announcement until 12 hours prior to the program. The entire 0.2 had to be word of mouth. True – a big chunk of your core audience will have visited some soccer blog or other in the days leading up to the match and heard rumors of ESPN coverage – but they could very well shatter that number when the planets align this Saturday: later match, word of mouth containing more certainty (and tales of HD), a little more promotion, and (let’s face it) Manchester United. If DirecTV would only take down “NASCAR Now” from their tv listings…

    I was startled to see Premier League scores on the ticker last night: “Sunderland 0 Chelsea 2”. I know ESPN needs to promote the sport to boost ratings, but the implication that “it’s not a sport until we cover it” really bugs me.

  22. fantastic to see ESPN promoting the matches/league now. hopefully this boosts ratings even more. because let’s face it, if we want them to cover more matches we’ve got to get everyone to watch!

    hell, even if it’s not your team at least turn the tv on or dvr it (especially if a nielsen household). that’s another thought, what if we all signed up for nielsen haha

    1. Same here. I’m getting an “Under Construction” message. I have a message in to Setanta to see what’s up and whether it’ll be fixed in time for this afternoon’s Premier League matches.

      The Gaffer

      1. I was getting that message using Firefox ,but it’s working on IE. For now.
        And I still can’t get through a game without having to log out and back in again at least twice.

        1. good luck with getting a response from setanta-i ?
          another reason why i will be dropping them at the end of my contract…..

  23. Might help if ESPN can get DirecTV and others to update their program guides. And before you say its still too soon, bullshit, Setanta goes from “TBA” status to listing the games rather quickly on the program guide.

    People are stupid and rely on program guides. ESPN’s ratings will go up if they can get their shit together and get this info updates.

    1. Yeah I don’t get it either, I’ve seen my listings change day-to-day ar programming is shifted around, seems like it should be able to get changed.

      Also I noticed this week the EPL will be bumbing NASCAR coverage instead of hunting/fishing I wonder how NASCAR fans will react.

  24. Ringo, I’m getting the same error message on IE, too. I put a message in to Setanta and they’re checking into it. Hopefully it can be fixed shortly.

    The Gaffer

    1. To let you know it is working for me right now, just logged on. Hope it stays, looking forward to seeing Utd again! Then HD on Saturday!

  25. At least in the short term, I think this can only help FSC. Think about it, the people who already watch FSC are still going to watch FSC. They aren’t going to stop watching the FSC. If people start watching the EPL on ESPN they might migrate to FSC to watch the other matches. Especially if there is cross promotion.

  26. ESPN’s inability to update their listings on DirecTV is downright stupid. They spent millions for the rights to air two EPL games most weeks, and then don’t bother to inform their audience! How crass.

    Ditto on Cox, the ESPN2 listings for next weekend do NOT include the EPL games.

    Last week there was justification, given the late hour at which the package was agreed, but it is now five days later, and still we have out-of-date guides. There is only one word for this: INCOMPETENCE.

    1. you do realize ESPN has absolutely nothing to do with your TV guide?
      Orrrrr…. obviously not.

      most cable companies hire third parties to update and maintain those and it’s up to them to keep it accurate. You should see how pathetic Fios’ guide is. Whatever company they use is terrible.

  27. I went ahead and set manual records on my DVR for the Saturday morning (Man Utd. game) and Monday afternoon (Liverpool/Aston Villa) games on ESPN2. I set it from 9:55 am to noon on Saturday and 2:55 pm to 5 pm on Monday afternoon.

    1. So has it been verified that ESPN2 will be showing the Liverpool/Villa game on Monday? Because I can see them being stupid enough to bump it for the Little League World Series, which is currently listed on DirecTV.

        1. They’ve been talking it up on the MLS telecast tonight as well. They even did Burnley v. Man Utd highlights during halftime! Someone does need to school the Sportscenter people on pronunciations and the lingo, though. Liverpool beat Stake City . . . Man U will take on The Wolves on Saturday (you know, The Wolves of Wigan Athletic). I do love some notice on matches, however. Now if these stupid cable channel guides would catch up!

          1. Didn’t Dave O’Brien make a similar mistake in the last World Cup or the run-up to the last World Cup when he called Wolverhampton Wanderers the “Wolverhampton Wolves” or something like that?

            Joel, I noticed that flub too. Hopefully they’ll learn over time.

            In the meantime, I just saw the EPL ad that ESPN2 played at halftime to promote the Wigan vs Man United game. I can sum it up in one word: WOW!

            Can anyone cap that commercial and send it to me? I’d love to share it with the rest of the EPL Talk readers.

            The Gaffer

          2. I saw that ESPN Premier League/La Liga commercial as well. Great job! Wondering what La Liga games their going to show. Gaffer, do you know yet?

      1. They are actually running EPL promos on SportsCenter. Theme song: the crowd chanting along to Seven Nation Army.

        Yeah, I know, cliche, but at least they’re serious

        1. I love The White Stripes too, but chanting it is so two years ago. But that’s a nitpick. At least it’s on ESPN, that’s all that matters.

  28. Guys – I live in Orange County California, have Cox Cable and this Saturday’s game is not listed on ESPN2 or ESPN2 HD. What gives?

    1. Jim, have faith. It’ll be on at 10am ET on Saturday. Whatever the TV guide says, just ignore it and record whatever programming the guide says will be in its place from 6:55am-9am PT.

      The Gaffer

  29. If you are going to show EPL games on ESPN I think they should be advertised better than this. As of right now my cable network does not show that MANU is playing this Saturday and it does not help that MANU site does not show what networks are playing this game. Does anyone know of a site that shows what networks are going to carry their games?

    1. After reading all the comments above it seems like everyone has the same complaints. At least I got lucky this week and saw the espn promo on the game this saturday. Maybe the lottery wil be lucky to.

    2. EPSN has nothing to do with your TV guide being updated. That’s not on them. They’ve been advertising the game on their network basically at every commercial break. The TV guide is handled by your cable or satellite provider.

  30. It’s about time espn gave Mr Murdoch a run for his money. Let’s hope they can establish themselves in the UK and end the monstrosity that is Sky Sports. I bet Peter Reid doesn’t even know he now works for Disney :)

  31. All ESPN2 games are now showing on my guide as of this morning. Saturday morning at 9:55 a.m., Monday afternoon at 2:55 p.m., and next Saturday morning at 7:40 a.m.

  32. i sent an email to FSC asking about HD and below is the reply i got….

    FSC is targeting January, 2010 as the date to offer select programs in high definition (HD) where rights and access to HD feeds are available, including the UEFA Champions League, Barclays Premier League and Serie A

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *