TV ratings for Major League Soccer in the United States are doomed. Why? Because most soccer fans such as ourselves have been programmed to watch European football. Let me explain.
On a typical weekend or weekday, European football matches kick off in the morning or mid-afternoon. So, with our DVRs programmed to record the Champions League, midweek Premier League matches, or cup tournaments from Spain or Italy, we have a feast of games to choose from by the time we get home from work. What about that MLS game that’s scheduled for 9pm or 10pm ET that night? It becomes much less of a priority when we have the best of Europe cued up on our DVR player.
A similar thing happens on weekends. We’ve been programmed so much that we’re accustomed to getting up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to watch Premier League or Serie A matches, and to then enjoy late morning or mid-afternoon Bundesliga or La Liga games — that by evening time when MLS matches will be on television, we’re either burned out or ready to go outside to go to dinner or get some fresh air.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a market where there’s a local MLS team, then it’s a different story and you’re more likely to reconfigure your day to make time to go to a home game. But if you’re like most Americans where the television set is your door to soccer, Major League Soccer is becoming less of a priority especially now that Premier League and La Liga games are available on ESPN2 in HD.
The other point I want to make is that it’s very difficult for MLS to compete against the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and other European leagues. It can’t win the TV ratings war, but it can win the battle with other American sports for capturing entertainment dollars for American families.
Personally I want MLS to survive and flourish, but it needs to realize it can’t compete against the Euro leagues in the TV wars (the ratings have already shown that).
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