Nielsen Ratings For Chelsea v Burnley ESPN2 Game

Premier League logoNielsen have revealed the TV ratings for last Saturday’s broadcast of the Chelsea against Burnley game which was televised by ESPN2.

The early Saturday morning kickoff generated a 0.2 rating and was watched in 197,856 households across the United States. The total viewing audience for that game was 253,934.

How does that compare to ESPN2’s ratings so far this year for the Premier League? Here are the viewing audience figures thus far according to Nielsen:

  1. Liverpool v Aston Villa, 398,391 viewers (Monday, 3pm ET)
  2. Wigan v Man United, 374,799 (Saturday, 10am ET)
  3. Chelsea v Burnley, 253,934 (Saturday, 7:45am ET)
  4. Chelsea v Hull City, 164,485 (Saturday, 7:45am ET)

The next Premier League match to be aired by ESPN2 will be an interesting test to see whether Manchester United or Liverpool can garner more viewers. After the international break, Liverpool take on Burnley at 10am ET on Saturday, September 12. Can Liverpool generate more viewers than Man United who played Wigan in the same timeslot a few weeks ago? We’ll have to see.

27 thoughts on “Nielsen Ratings For Chelsea v Burnley ESPN2 Game”

  1. Gaffer – I’m curious. How do these numbers compare to a popular TV event in the US — or other sport programming events? What do ESPN and Fox people say about their satisfaction with these numbers? Does it vindicate our view that football is being suppressed by the media in the US (who are reluctant to cannibalize their existing investments/audiences for Baseball, etc)? Does it support the thesis driving more American investment in foreign football clubs?

    1. Sam, I’m going to sound like a broken record with this (sorry), but I don’t have access to Nielsen Ratings to find out what the ratings were for other sports programming events.

      The other questions are equally as interesting but would require entire articles to answer them. In short, no word from ESPN yet but they may be waiting to see how well the ratings do as the season progresses before making public statements in case the EPL ratings are a flash in the pan (which we know they will not be).

      The Gaffer

      1. USA Today normally publishes national TV ratings for games each weekend.

        This week, they only picked golf, little league world series, and NFL preseason games, all with terrestrial broadcasts.

        Sunday afternoon golf on CBS got 2.8 million viewers
        Sunday afternoon LLWS on ABC got 2.2 million viewers
        Sunday night NFL on NBC got 5.6 million viewers
        Friday night NFL on CBS got 3.8 million viewers

        All of those figures were up massively from last year’s equivalent broadcasts (perhaps a sign that Americans are staying home more on weekends due to the economy). When you consider that weekend afternoons and prime time slots get far more viewership (even a 10am eastern game is still on when most of the west coast is just waking up!), for the EPL to be getting a tenth, more or less, of the other sports broadcasts is good news.

  2. Similar to Sam, I’d like to know how it rates against something like bowling or fishing.

    I’m sure your average midwesterner is looking at the EPL and thinking, “Why is this on my tv?” Which is exactly what your average soccer fan (especially European transplants) probably thinks about hunting and poker.

  3. You can see how much ESPN could increase their rating if more games where shown as late as the Pool vs Villa game. Its difficult to get a audience for very early kick offs, like in both Chelsea games.

  4. Good point, Mike, but one that I think will be addressed if EPSN sticks with the EPL (and promotes it).

    American sports fans aren’t used to being able to find top-quality sport at that time on a morning. Seven o’clock is the domain of Sports Center re-runs and, well, hunting and fishing (sorry, hunting and fishing fans, but you’re my go-to rubbish sport of the day).

    I think a portion of American fans would get caught-up in the EPL, if they can find it.

  5. Chelsea v Burnley, 253,934 vs. Chelsea v Hull City, 164,485

    Considering the time and the teams, this a substantial net increase. Chelsea is a quality side that played non-quality opponents. I admit I was a bit spoiled with the Man Utd and Liverpools ratings, but this is wonderful news. Keep in mind much of the country was still in the wee hours of the morning awaiting DVR. This season may just be a precursor to a better package next season. To be honest ESPN hasn’t done very much in the way of marketing (I like the quality of what they have done). So let’s give it time. I think ESPN realise what they have.

  6. always good to see week over week increases given that chelsea had played hull and then burnley and still managed to get more viewers. just goes to show that grassroots word of mouth & the advertising they have done has made people more aware. not to mention, that’s the early timeslot and will be the hardest to get viewers on.

    however, all that matters from espn’s perspective is the ability for them to generate higher views than what was previously on during those timeslots. that’s where the real comparison is.


  7. “however, all that matters from espn’s perspective is the ability for them to generate higher views than what was previously on during those timeslots”

    Actually, what matters is the amount of money they can charge for advertising in those timeslots. This usually goes hand in hand with the number of viewers, but…

    If you’re getting up to watch the early games, you’ll notice that the ads are still those geared toward the hunting/fishing audiences. I don’t know if this is due to a contractual obligation, or if they’ve had a hard time reacting to the last minute acquisition of EPL football, but I get the impression that ESPN is going to be taking a longer view than just the last few weeks.

    It’s entirely possible that, even if the viewership is larger numbers-wise, the lack of commercial break opportunities is going to make soccer a losing proposition from a revenue standpoint. I certainly hope this isn’t the case, but who knows?

    1. It’s partly due to a contractual obligation. Actually, here in Los Angeles the ads aren’t even the ESPN national ads…because it’s still 4 or 5 in the morning, the ad time was given to the local Time Warner affiliate to sell.

      While the coverage of soccer is unorthodox to other American sports in terms of commercial breaks, the numbers don’t lie and it’s still incredibly profitable despite the lack of commercial break opportunities. ESPN doesn’t go out and buy little pet projects that they care about. They did it cause they knew this was another cash cow.

      1. “ESPN doesn’t go out and buy little pet projects that they care about. They did it cause they knew this was another cash cow.”

        Excellent point. If they didn’t think it was going to work they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of making an eleventh-hour deal to show EPL games, would they?

  8. If ESPN can demonstrate a growing audience, an audience that is larger than hunting/fishing/poker, and prove to advertisers that their target audience is watching, then they will keep it. If they can’t demonstrate all of the above, they will not keep showing it.

    I would be really interested to see what the ratings are relative to this time last fall when they were showing something else. I also hope that the ratings continue to improve and advertisers take notice.

    That early time slot is also very difficult as half of the country is still in bed and the east coast is just beginning to wake up. The 10AM east coast start time is much better. Monday afternoon’s match is the best of the three possibilities for ESPN.

    1. AP:

      I think it best to think about the early Saturday morning game as a hard core fan game. Unless you are a fan of the particular team or of the EPL as a whole you most likely won’t be getting up for it. So, the numbers for those games may remain somewhat on the small side.

      The real ratings test is the Monday afternoon event. How many people will tune in live either from home or a pub is the key. Not that it compares but the last Champions League final pulled in a large crowd to my local work pub at 2:00pm CST. Places like The Globe in the city itself were filled up by 11:00am. So, once again American’s come out to see soccer.

  9. That Wigan/ManU figure is interesting considering FSC were showing ManC/Wolves at the same time. The other matches had no direct competition, correct?

  10. There is usually only one game on at 7:30 am east coast time on Saturday.

    You’re correct that the early game is a for hardcore fans of that team. I would not get up that early to watch the match unless it was Pompey. If it was a big match, such as ManU-Liverpool, I would record it and watch it later.

    Those comparisons to the Little League World Series, which I always thoroughly enjoy watching, are startling. While they are afternoon and evening time slots and a sport most Americans are familiar with, not to mention who doesn’t like watching kids play a game at the highest level, they aren’t real good comparisons.

    Gaffer: can you get ratings for the shows that were in that time slot on the same weekend last year as a comparison?

  11. I can’t find ratings for the hunting/fishing shows but I’m pretty sure they’re under .1 as many niche shows only draw viewers in the 5 figure range.

    Actually, the overall rating isn’t the key number to look out for. Ratings, in terms of advertising is based on demographics. The key demo is 18-34 and 18-40 something. It’s already a massive win for any network to get ANY ratings in those demographics on a Saturday morning.

  12. I’m sure the Chelsea vs. Hull game has lower figures, not because of the quality of opponent, but due to the fact that even 12 hours before the game, no-one, not even Premier League die-hards, knew it was being shown… I found out about the deal after midnight EDT and it wasn’t in my DVR guide. Had it been announce waaaay in advance, I’m sure it would have gotten a similar viewership figures to Chelsea vs. Burnley and Wigan vs. Man Utd

  13. I just wonder if ESPN is planning on spending a little money on advertising these games or if they are happy just to let the existing fan-base watch and spread word themselves. I know they had one commercial developed but I’ve never seen it on TV.

    Also, has anyone noticed an increase (by that I mean ANY) in the coverage of EPL games by Sports Center? Now that ESPN has the rights to these games do they at least show a 2 minute goal summary?

    Gaffer: will you get the ratings for the US and England game?

    1. Sadly they do not give them a full highlight, unless of course the game warrants it. They have featured in the past a goal or save in their top plays of the night on the Saturday 11pm SportsCenter.

      Even worse, there continues to be that soccer backlash/distaste being spewed by ESPN personalities when it comes to soccer. Everytime I’ve seen an ESPN studio either hand off their coverage or follow soccer programming…there’s a strong level of disdain in how they say the word soccer.

      The only ESPN personality truly embracing ESPN’s coverage is Colin Cowherd…who for years was a loud douchebag that hated on the sport. Now he’s just a loud douchebag that loves soccer.

    2. ESPN has definitely been advertising the EPL a heck of a lot on the Internet. Everywhere I go, including BBC Sport, I see banner advertisements — which is a great sign.

      Gaz, I’ll see what I can do regarding the US and England game — but I believe the England game is on PPV, so I may not be able to get those numbers.

      The Gaffer

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