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EPL TV Ratings On ESPN2 From August to September, 2009

espn2 logo EPL TV Ratings On ESPN2 From August to September, 2009

Nielsen Ratings have released the latest TV ratings for Premier League matches on ESPN2. With the TV ratings now available for August and September, 2009, here are the top 8 most viewed matches on ESPN2:

  1. Liverpool v Aston Villa, Mon., Aug. 24, 3 pm, 398,391 viewers
  2. Wigan v Man United, Sat., Aug. 22, 10 am, 374,799
  3. Manchester City v West Ham United, Mon., Sept. 28, 3pm, 293,600
  4. Portsmouth v Everton, Sat., Sept. 26, 7:45am, 270,927
  5. Chelsea v Burnley, Sat., Aug. 29, 7:45 am, 253,934
  6. Liverpool v Burnley, Sat., Sept. 12, 10 am, 253,779
  7. Burnley v Sunderland, Sat., Sept. 19, 7:45 am, 199,380
  8. Chelsea v Hull City, Sat., Aug. 15, 7:45 am, 164,485

The two most recently released Nielsen ratings for the above matches are Portsmouth against Everton, and Manchester City versus West Ham United.

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Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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27 Responses to EPL TV Ratings On ESPN2 From August to September, 2009

  1. Rob says:

    Aston Villa – Man City this afternoon should be interesting on and off the pitch.

  2. eplnfl says:

    Note the large audience for the Monday afternoon games when we should all be working in the US?

    • Duke says:

      I think it’s also interesting to note the increase in audience over time. I realize it’s a pretty small “N” that we’re dealing with, but viewership seems to be increasing over time in each time-slot. The Chelsea and ManU matches skew this a little (a lot?), but that seems to be the overall trend.

      Let’s hope this keeps up.

  3. winstongator says:

    Any comparison to what would ordinarily be on at those times on espn2?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Winston, sorry mate, but I don’t have access to the ratings for those programs.

      The Gaffer

    • ovalball says:

      I have also wondered. Did a little searching and found these numbers from 2006 for Saturday morning bass shows/tournaments: 306,600 & 432,000. The numbers represented 9% & 15% growth from 2005.

      So, the 2009 EPL numbers don’t look like anything to get too excited about, particularly considering the outdoor shows are in the can. From ESPN’s perspective that means no studio shows, no satellite issues, no fee negotiations. If you were ESPN what would you think, if you could see through that (insert team) scarf wrapped around your face?

      I hope the numbers grow and give ESPN reason to keep showing the EPL, but we need to remember that for them it’s all about the bottom line and not our passion for the beautiful game.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Oval, thanks for uncovering those numbers regarding the previous programming. Nice work! As for ESPN2, ratings are all well and good but it really comes down to advertising dollars. If ESPN can do a decent job of selling TV commercials to large brands who want to reach affluent soccer fans, this should overshadow the ratings that the fishing and hunting programs got.

        I’m confident that ESPN will hit the magic 500,000 number this season for one of the matches. When the winter months start, the current numbers should increase.

        The Gaffer

      • Panda says:

        The numbers may be the same but they’re completely different. Viewership numbers, in terms of advertising, is about demographics. The number of 18-35 viewers of the PL is way higher than those hunting shows which skews older.

        • Matthew N says:

          I also think the EPL has a much higher potential for growth than hunting and fishing shows. If soccer ever “catches on” in America, ESPN could be looking at a big profit. I’m fairly certain this is what they are trying to do. The times that the EPL is on are mostly times that ESPN doesn’t have anything going on (Sat/Sun mornings, Mon afternoons), so if they can get people interested in soccer, which I’m sure they can if they make a big enough commitment, it will surely pay dividends in the long run.

        • Fan says:

          Do you have the demographic numbers for that? I think people here greatly underestimate the sportsman population. I’m not one, but they are younger and spend more money than I think you all are giving them credit for.

  4. man99utd says:

    I realise its early days, but it appears as if there’s been no growth. I’m chuffed that I can watch the EPL on ESPN but would like to know they’re assessment of the numbers. Additionally, could the technical problems experienced by ESPN cause a dip in the numbers?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Personally, I find the numbers encouraging. ESPN2 hasn’t had a massive game on yet (the fixture list has been unkind to them). Let’s see how many viewers a massive game brings in first — there are a couple near the end of this month with the north London derby between Arsenal and Spurs one of them.

      The Gaffer

  5. Brett says:

    For some persepective, Versus’ NHL viewership was about on par with ESPN2′s viewership of the EPL this season. I’d say that’s pretty good considering the times the respective leagues are on TV.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Wow, and the NHL games certainly weren’t shown at 7:45 on a Saturday morning. That’s encouraging news. Thanks for sharing Brett.

      The Gaffer

    • Rob says:

      I have to come to Hockey’s defense. Versus is only available in roughly 50% of all American homes. Although I don’t have a number for ESPN, I do not know of a cable package in the US without ESPN and ESPN2.

      Food for thought.

  6. John says:

    Why can’t the Saturday morning ESPN2 broadcast get its act together? Nine weeks into the season and they STILL can’t get the technical problems worked out. Plus, even worse, it is NOT a high-def signal being used. They have switched from the ESPN UK feed to something else that resembles an FSC feed. What a sham and a disappointment. Maybe I am spoiled at the amount of soccer on the in the U.S. now, but I am just so eager to bring the soccer broadcasting out of the stone ages here.

    • Duke says:

      Yeah, it’s really irritating to have the “sattelite” problems every week. It’s become a wry joke around my house, “How long are the sattelite problems going to last this morning.”

      This is ESPN, for crying out loud. They really can’t do any better than that?

    • Panda says:

      It’s really not ESPN’s fault. The problem lies with the HD transmission of the worldwide feed as it’s the first season IMG and UEFA are doing it for a lot of games. That’s a lot of bandwidth being used and to send it from England to Bristol, CT can be taxing on a satellite feed. FSC/FSN have had similar problems this season.Unfortunately, the workaround is just taking the SD stream.

      If ESPN is broadcasting the game (as in the case of Monday games), things work a little differently since they have their own dedicated feed of the game.

  7. Drew says:

    So how does this compare to the ratings when ESPN had Champions League?

    How much did ESPN pay for the rights?

    • The Gaffer says:


      The 2009 Champions League Final ratings averaged 1.43 million viewers (and a 1.1 rating/1.07 million homes) for ESPN making it the most-watched UEFA soccer game in the history of U.S. Cable.

      ESPN haven’t revealed how much they paid for the rights unfortunately.

      The Gaffer

  8. Leeboy says:

    >>Plus, even worse, it is NOT a high-def signal being used. They have switched from the ESPN UK feed to something else that resembles an FSC feed.

    Only the games shown live on ESPN in the UK will have a HD ESPN feed. In fact, only the games covered live on UK TV by Sky Sports and ESPN are produced in HD. All matches at the standard 3pm kick-off time are covered in standard definition only, and a world feed is shown worldwide – which is the ‘FSC’ feed you refer to. If ESPN show any fixtures on this list (,,12306,00.html) they will be shown in HD

  9. Andy says:

    ESPN(2) has Aston Villa to thank for the ratings. On behalf of the mighty Villa Lion… you’re welcome.

  10. Ryan says:

    Wait until college football gets over in late December, then ratings will start to shoot up.

    • Fan says:

      They’ll still have to contend with college hoops. Maybe the audience for club soccer in the US is more limited than people want to assume.

  11. leviramsey says:

    I dug up some figures for “normal” programming on ESPN2. In a recent Wall Street Journal article on Comcast’s potential stake in NBC Universal, which might help Comcast build Versus into an ESPN competitor, they note that Versus’ average viewership at any given time (based on the year through this past June) is 140k or so and that ESPN2′s average is three times that.

    I’m not sure whether TV is like radio in that the ratings normally don’t count overnight viewers in the full-day averages.

    Now if you figure that the prime time hours average about a million viewers at any given time and covers a sixth of the day, then that means that the sum of viewer-4-hour-blocks is about 1.5 million, so that implies an average for the rest of the day of 300k. If you figure that the four hours surrounding primetime, when you’ve got studio show buildup and breakdown, etc. have 500k viewers, then you’re left with about 250k average for the rest of the day. Weekend afternoon viewership, especially once NFL season ends is probably somewhat over 250k, too. It begins to become clear that the Saturday morning slots averaging under 100k viewers last year and that Monday afternoons average probably 150k-200k.

    In short, it looks rather likely that EPL is cheaply doubling ratings at ESPN2.

  12. leviramsey says:

    The WSJ article I alluded to was from Monday October 12, on page B2. The relevant quote (which I apparently slightly misremembered) is:

    “Versus… averaged 125k viewers for the year through October 4, according to Nielsen… Still, Versus’ average number of viewers is less than a seventh of the average number watching ESPN and just over a third of the number watching ESPN2.”

    So, even though some figures are wrong, that implies that EPL viewership is even better than I thought relative to what ESPN2 would get otherwise. And ESPN isn’t paying a ton for rights and isn’t spending a lot on studio programming (what there is has either been provided by ESPN UK or effectively by Soccernet). ESPN are extremely happy with EPL football, I’d have to think.

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