ESPN2 Scores Record TV Ratings For Wigan v Man United


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.

28 thoughts on “ESPN2 Scores Record TV Ratings For Wigan v Man United”

  1. the numbers will only explode as Espn continues to push the Premiership across all its platforms. They will draw in casual fans with the perfect timing of games on weekend mornings before NFL games start.

  2. WoW! good news for soccer fans.

    Can you find how the “Jorge Ramos y su Banda” show on ESPN Deportes is doing? It’s the best soccer show I’ve seen, although it mostly mexican soccer.

  3. An additional point, Gaffer, is that the Arsenal v. Spurs match will be an early kick-off. I’m very curious to see how well ESPN do with the early Saturday morning matches. I’m also curious to see how the Premiership does going against ESPN’s College Football Gameday which, I believe, begins at 10:00 AM.

    Finally, credit to ESPN for knowing the Burnley would be one of the biggest early season surprises: Their next three matches will be shown live on ESPN2.

  4. We know that ESPN, Inc., like most sports TV networks, prices TV ads based on 1) total number of viewers in the 18-34 age group, and 2) total number of viewers in the 18-49 age group.

    The key, then is to see how many of the over 374,000 viewers are in the 18-34 and 18-49 demographics.

    If I were a ad buyer, I would want to see at least 187,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo (i.e. 50% of total viewers), and 93,500 viewes in the 18-34 demo (i.e. 25% of total viewers), before I would consider buying ads during the program.

    1. man…how happy are the guys at that fishing/hunting store today haha. I’m sure they never thought they’d get many eyeballs on their ads and they got it for an ad buy that didn’t garner those numbers.

      1. The Gold Cup final had large ratings in the US on the Spanish language channel. If my recall is correct the Spansih station presented the game in HD, while as we know FSC does not do so for any of it’s products.

  5. Would it be possible to compare the ratings between the programming they would show instead of EPL matches (the hunting and fishing stuff)? Is it safe to say EPL matches get a higher amount of viewers than this programming? This might be a stretch since it involves numbers, but will EPL matches being shown in the US result in a profit (I don’t know if they disclose their ad prices or how much they paid for US rights)?

    1. Hi Matthew, I don’t have access to Nielsen ratings, but I’m sure the Premier League are generating more viewers than the hunting and fishing programming.

      The Gaffer

    2. The word profit in this case is a bit of misnomer. Soccer, in general, as far as ESPN, as a whole global entity, is concerned will operate at a loss for a while. ESPN has paid a lot of money and has built a lot of partnerships that in the past, have not been so fruitful (I’m talking about you MLS). Take into the account that they are just building what could be a world wide soccer empire (ESPN Star Sports in Asia and their other European outlets) that could match FOX/SKY.

      Considering that ESPN just launched a network in the UK, best case scenario is they break close to even in their first full endeavor into the Premier League.

      As far as ESPN2 in the US is concerned, a .3 rating early on a Sunday morning is more than they could hope for. Take into account that a Yankees/Red Sox game in prime time nets them a 3.7 (2.8 million viewers). Also, ESPN’s average daily viewership is around a million people and primetime is almost twice that.

      For a game that had very little advertising, absolutely no coverage on SportsCenter, and was on at 10 in the morning…it’s a definite win.

      The sponsorship possibilities is there as everyone knows the EPL is a cash cow like the NFL is. The only thing that’ll scare away sponsors is that soccer does not lend itself to advertising. Not that many will stick around to view the ads at the half which makes their pregame show and post game show much more crucial because those few moments of advertising in between games will be the key moments viewers might actually watch the advertisements.

  6. Remember,the Wigan-Man United game was shown at the same time as the Arsenal-Portsmouth match on Sentanta,and the Man City-Wolves game on Fsc. So the viewing numbers would have been so much higher if they had not been diluted by the 2 other games.

  7. impressive stuff so far and here’s to hoping the numbers keep going higher. i know i’ll be watching their coverage of matches just for the sake of enjoying the EPL in the states on mainstream TV again! Don’t think my viewership even impacts the ratings, but it can’t hurt.


  8. Wigan might not have a hugefollowing but it’s getting bigger with our South American links with Honduras and Columbia…I hope it’s their American ex pats who held the figures up.

  9. btw, just read a press release today from ESPN. Not only did Kevin Keegan join the ESPN crew (as we saw on Monday) but also The Potato himself, Guus Hiddink, will join ESPN broadcasts for select matches. I wonder if this influx of talent to ESPNUK will affect ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup here in the states.

    1. You have to wonder if we won’t see Jon Champion on ESPN’s World Cup coverage since I think Sky has the rights in the UK. That would be SWEET.

      1. Aside from Martin Tyler, I could listen to Jon Champion all day. His pregame speil about Anfield and Liverpool FC was absolutely beautiful.

  10. This is good rating news and i am hopeful ESPN will show more games in the future, especially in HD, as i REALLY enjoyed watching the ManU Wigan game in HD!

    1. What you or I watch or how we watch it has nothing to do with the ratings if we are not part of the Nielson Ratings program. The ratings are generated nationwide only by those with Nielson boxes supplied by the company.

    2. Technically, none of us were counted (unless there’s someone here who is a Nielsen home). Unfortunately, the rating system does not take into account DVRs although in the past Tivo and other DVR companies have tracked what’s being DVRd.

  11. Good news certainly. More intertings numbers should come when we see what the Monday night game with the UK crew drew. We should keep in mind that the majority of ESPN matches will have a 6:45am CST, 4:45am PST start. Keeping up good numbers for the early start would be impressive.

  12. Things to note that you don’t talk about:

    1) ESPN and ESPN2 does not equal FSC. 300,000 on ESPN is not the same percentage as 300,000 on FSC. This would be worth noting as most families/viewers do not have FSC.

    2) Primetime games do not equal early morning games, especially games at 7:45am. This strengthens the power of EPL, as primetime should garner WAY more viewers. But anyone comparing MLS to EPL is clinically insane. Also, it would be interesting to compare the ratings of Pro-Bass Fishing (or whatever) to the morning games as this is their only competition.

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