ESPN2 recorded a record TV rating for a Premier League game on U.S. television this past weekend when it aired Wigan Athletic versus Manchester United.
According to an ESPN spokesperson, the Wigan vs Man United game generated a 0.3 rating and was watched in 289,876 TV homes with a viewing audience of 374,799. The game was shown at 10 ET on Saturday, August 22.
This compares to a viewing audience of 164,485 who watched the opening game of the 2009/2010 Premier League season on ESPN2 featuring Chelsea against Hull City. TV ratings for Monday’s Liverpool against Aston Villa game are not yet available.
The highest TV rating for a Premier League game on US television previously was 298,000 viewers for the February 1, 2009 game between Liverpool and Chelsea, which was aired on Fox Soccer Channel at 11am on a Sunday. Fox Soccer Channel began collecting TV ratings for its network on October 1, 2008, so while previous Premier League games may have garnered higher TV ratings, we have no way of knowing for sure. As a result, ESPN2’s viewing audience of 374,799 is the highest recorded audience for an EPL game.
It’s also important to note how the 374,799 compares to other leagues and tournaments. US National Team telecasts on ESPN and ESPN have averaged a 0.6 rating last year and the Euros averaged a 0.8 on the ESPN/ABC networks. ESPN2’s Thursday night rating for Major League Soccer fell last season and the telecasts averaged a 0.2 rating and was watched in an average of 251,000 homes weekly. The Gold Cup Final, shown this summer on Fox Soccer Channel, was watched in 267,000 homes in the United States and averaged a 0.8 household coverage rating.
ESPN2’s record ratings is excellent news for soccer fans in the United States. ESPN executives should be impressed by the numbers thus far especially seeing that the season is only two weeks in. No offence to Wigan Athletic, but the Latics don’t have a massive fanbase in the United States, so it’ll be interesting to see how big the ratings are for an upcoming game on ESPN2 where two massive clubs face each other. For example, Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur will play each other on October 31, which will be aired on ESPN2.