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MLS Outperforming EPL on American TV

findley MLS Outperforming EPL on American TV

The Barclays Premier League may be the most popular sports league in the world, but it is not the most popular football league in the United States. That distinction would fall to the Mexican League. But now, we have empirical data that the EPL is trailing our own top flight domestic league, Major League Soccer in interest, awareness and support.

MLS has seen a 15% increase in viewership on ESPN2 this season and a 60% increase in viewership on Fox Soccer Channel. ESPN2’s viewership for MLS matches is significantly higher than the networks viewership thus far for Premier League or La Liga matches, despite the fact that, MLS game times on the network shift from week to week while EPL and La Liga matches are always at the same time. Additionally, ESPN Deportes ratings are way up as well.

Matches involving David Beckham averaged over 400,000 viewers on the network. Seattle’s admission to the league also helped the surge in interest with the Sounders match against DC United in May being watched by 550,000 viewers, a season high.

Matches on Univision owned Telefutura have dropped slightly, but still draw more average eyeballs than the EPL or La Liga telecasts on ESPN. Telefutura’s MLS telecasts due have a set start time every Sunday and do admittedly lag far behind the network’s FMF matches in the ratings.

While MLS TV ratings are lower than they were in 1997, they are now higher than they were in 2002 or 2007, so the positive movement is encouraging. The viewers lost between 1997 and 2002 may have been due to a few factors including the contraction of the league’s Florida franchises as well as the growth in the availability of foreign football on television.

MLS not only leads the EPL in TV viewership, but this year recorded a better average attendance than football leagues in Spain and Italy. With Philadelphia, the nation’s 5th largest TV market joining MLS next season, it is hard to imagine this upward trend in both attendance and TV viewership not accelerating.

Twenty years from now, the world of football is more likely to resemble the fiscally disciplined approach of Major League Soccer and less likely to reflect the current order of things. In this global recessionary time, MLS has led the way to stabilizing the sport with a salary cap, squad limits and slow growth, while many top leagues in Europe (France and Germany are exceptions) are spending their way into oblivion.

American viewers have clearly voted that they would rather see a fiscally restrained competitive product, than star laden but predictable one. Now, the big question is whether the outside world of football will see the impact Don Garber and MLS has made, and adopt some changes that reflect our times.

MLS itself has to make some changes to its business model to continue to have its competitive edge, but for skeptic of MLS’ business and leadership like myself, these numbers speak volumes. Don Garber knew what he was doing all along.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, TV Ratings. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

60 Responses to MLS Outperforming EPL on American TV

  1. Glubber says:

    “MLS not only leads the EPL in TV viewership, but this year recorded a better average attendance than football leagues in Spain and Italy.”

    Hunh?

  2. Dave Clark says:

    average attendence beating second division leagues in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Holland
    as well as the top leagues Scotland, Portugal, Russia

  3. Matthew N says:

    “American viewers have clearly voted that they would rather see a fiscally restrained competitive product, than star laden predictable one. Now, the big question is whether the outside world of football will see the impact Don Garber and MLS has made, and adopt some changes that reflect our times.”

    Way to make a completely ludicrous claim based off one fact. American viewers are dumb and uninitiated, for the most part. The casual viewer is turned off by “foreigners” with hard to pronounce names and locations they don’t know. As someone who watches probably 5-10 football matches a week, I can barely stand to watch the MLS. The first touch is atrocious and some of the teams are just terrible. I try to get out and support my local club and I’ll watch it if there is nothing else on, but really the product on the field is terrible. Also, there is a massive time zone disparity accounting for the EPL’s ratings compared to MLS ratings. MLS plays live in PRIME TIME, when the most eyeballs are watching TV sets. EPL is in the mornings and early afternoons, and directly conflicts with college football, one of the most popular sports in the US.

    This article sounds like it was written by the biggest MLS cheerleader in the world.

    • dan says:

      we got a euro snob lol.
      remember the MLS is young league that is still building if your going to trash the MLS or USL please just move out of the country we dont need people who don’t understand the concept of building.

      • sam says:

        EURO SNOB!
        EURO SNOB!
        EURO SNOB!
        EURO SNOB!
        EURO SNOB!
        EURO SNOB!

      • Lars says:

        Disagreed Dan, and before you call me a Eurosnob, read:

        I am somebody who seeks out and willingly watches MLS (and has been to MLS matches) and can quite frankly tell you MLS is perhaps one of the most boring leagues i’ve watched. I still choose to watch it because it plays an important role in the development of the game in North America, and every day I hope for a better, less parity intensive league.

        Parity is very much the bane of MLS. Would anybody watch hockey be without the dynasties of the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs or the Red Wings? Would baseball be nearly as popular if it wasn’t for the powerhouse Yankees and all the haters of said team? What would NFL be without America’s team?

        Parity makes for a snorefest. I watch EPL, and La Liga as often as I can and I always cheer against the big name teams. When two big name teams come up against each other, I cheer for the team that didn’t spend as much money in pursuit of winning. Without that underdog element, the game is detracted from

        Only Colombian league is worse than MLS of the leagues I’ve watched.

        MLS is nearly 15 years old. The excuses for a poorly talented and boring product have to stop sometime.

        EPL is miles above MLS in excitement and talent. And to those who say that EPL is predictable, I disagree wholeheartedly. This year is producing some very interesting matches.

    • bgix says:

      “Way to make a completely ludicrous claim based off one fact. American viewers are dumb and uninitiated, for the most part. The casual viewer is turned off by “foreigners” with hard to pronounce names and locations they don’t know. As someone who watches probably 5-10 football matches a week, I can barely stand to watch the MLS…. This article sounds like it was written by the biggest MLS cheerleader in the world.”

      And you sound like one of the most arrogant soccer elitists ever. Soccer is played at various skill levels all over the world. You make it sound like a root canal when not played at some level pre-determined by you to be “elite”. It would be a miracle if soccer survived anywhere with “fans” like you. Kids, highschoolers, colleges and 2nd division and lower teams wouldn’t be able to get fans to cheer because it is just too damn painful to watch!

      Please, don’t do the rest of us any “favors”.

      • Matthew N says:

        Well, seeing as I regularly attend MLS games (Columbus), I regularly attend games at my local high school, and I regularly watch youth soccer in my area, I find all these conclusions you’ve jumped to about me very odd. I’m not a snob, I’m just telling the truth. The calibre of play is obviously not as high and anyone who has been around soccer their whole life will easily recognize that if they are fans of both the MLS and the EPL. On the other hand, Americans who may be more “casual” soccer fans (maybe their children play or something) may not know the EPL, so the quality of play in the MLS is less of a deterrent because it is still that of a very high level.

        I am telling you right now from my personal experience (and things I’ve heard people say in my community) that many Americans have zero interest in watching foreign teams play. They would rather watch their local team play (if they watch at all).

        I am not trashing the MLS at all. I am trashing the author’s assertion that Americans have “clearly voted” that they would rather see a salary-capped parity-focused league rather than the big stars from the international stage in England or Spain. I love the MLS. If I lived a little closer to the stadium (1.5 hours), I would probably go to every single game.

        MLS people are very odd. You guys need to be able to take criticism if you want this league to go anywhere. We all want the MLS to succeed, grow, and do well. I hope to God Columbus does well in the CCL so OUR domestic league can get more respect.

    • Chris in Belfast says:

      How long have you been reading this site, sir? I’m shocked Kartik said something *this* positive about the league. Almost never happens.

      I will say that it seems we’re on the verge of a couple of fairly big teams absolutely imploding financially: Liverpool, and Rangers seem most likely, although *several* Spanish clubs are in less than kosher financial shape, and the number of sugar daddies willing to come splash out obscene amounts of money on clubs has to be running low by now. In ten or fifteen years, we might end up seeing leagues taking steps akin to MLS as far as wage structures are concerned. If MLS is able to address some of its ownership issues ( HSG seemingly *wanting* FCD to fail, Chicago, New England, and Colorado’s ownership groups being fairly inhospitable to supporter’s groups, KC, DC, and SJ in crappy stadium situations) and is able to make teams 19 and 20 successes, the league could be in a good position to reap the benefits on a competitive level.

      Even if this happens though, I want the league to recommit to developing young American talent. A decent academy set-up should be made mandatory, and teams should have much freer reign to sign those young players, otherwise they have little incentive to train them in the first place. And in areas that MLS is ill served (Southeast, Upper-Midwest, and Southwest) the league *could* set up collectively run academies roughly akin to the USSF’s Bradenton set-up. The national squad can’t rely on foreign teams picking out the best young talent in the US, it needs to be developed here.

    • Aaron says:

      I agree with dan and thats not even a true state ment you know seatlle stuck with chelsea int their first year of exsitnace i dont think thats bad at all most of our teams, not including dc united or chicago and philly would probly ssurvive the premiership.

      • Football fan says:

        No they wouldn’t, they’d get relegated. They can’t even beat Central American teams in the CCL. Your league is pathetic

  4. Angry USA Fan says:

    Congratulations Kartik!

    You have transformed yourself from leading critic to top cheerleader in few short months. All you prove is that you can take any piece of data and manipulate it to serve your purposes. Not long ago, Kartik talked about how impressive the EPL and La Liga ratings were compared to the MLS because those games were in the morning going up against College Football and top news programs while MLS was in prime time usually on nights with little else going on.

    Funny how Kartik takes the same data months later and comes to the opposite conclusion. This is precisely why stats and data lie, and why your buddy Simon Kuper, whose book you are pimping is so very off base.

  5. man10utd says:

    Could the ratings for MLS be higher this year because ESPN cut the number of matches shown?

    • Rob says:

      I don’t think they cut the actual number. I don’t know this for sure, but what I do know is that they moved away from the “Thursday night MLS game of the week” and spread the games around the week from Wednesday through Sunday. They saw success with this, and it will be continued next year (seeing as they saw an increase).

      @AngryUSAFan – How do stats and data lie? The article to back Katrik up is here: http://footiebusiness.com/2009/10/29/soccer-business-bits-mls-tv-ratings-climbing/ (who got their data from Sports Business Journal, the source of all of this).

      The fact of the matter is that the 2009 MLS regular season had more average viewers on ESPN2 than the EPL has had thus far on ESPN2. How one wants to interpret that is their own decision, but the numbers are un-debatable facts.

  6. Daniel Feuerstein says:

    I find it funny that those who speak against Kartik on his negative views of MLS are now speaking against him, when he has seen the facts of how this past season has been a positive for MLS.

    At least he has seen the numbers.

  7. Mr. Baker says:

    As somebody else pointed out, it’s really not fair to compare ESPN2′s MLS viewers with its EPL ones.

    More on that here:
    http://american-soccer-news.com/?p=3541

    • TG says:

      Agreed. The numbers also don’t add pubs into the equation.

      There is a culture of seeing your favorite EPL team at the pub with your friends, even if you have the channel at home. Not the same for MLS.

      • That is a very fair point on the pubs. I don’t want to walk back my thesis, but that point has me reconsidering it in my head. The pub culture is massive for EPL and Football League matches. I know, because I often partake in it and the places are jammed pack. That is certainly not the case for MLS matches.

        • Chris in Belfast says:

          How far does this go, though? It also doesn’t take into account people watching on the internet, and even though I’m sure there are many many more people watching EPL games over the internet, for someone like me the only really feasible way for me to watch MLS games is to catch a feed. Does it take into account the people watching games officially on the MLS website? (Does the league still do this?)

          The point I’m trying to make is that real viewership likely a fair bit higher in all cases than the actual Neilsen’s.

        • Aaron says:

          well some clubs have official watch parties like here in chicago but i dont know any where else ecept for seattle they have those all round the place

  8. On the Bandwagon Since '96 says:

    I guess Kartik is doing something right since he’s been attacked by both euro snobs as well as MLS born agains, which I’ll admit I’m part of.

    Even without the ratings data, what more proof do naysayers want? We have more than enough teams/business enterprises that want to join in the league. We have more Americans playing in european leagues that came out of MLS. The european veteran players playing in MLS is getting younger. More younger non-european talents are coming to US in hopes of getting to europe.

    Personally, I think MLS is growing just at the right speed. Not too fast so that the ticket prices are still affordable. However, it’s unfortunate that guys like Matthew and his naysayers will be around for few more years.
    All the euro snobs can still wear their retarded ManU jerseys so that they can raise their low self-esteem during parties.

    • Matthew N says:

      You can still criticize the failings of the MLS while still being a fan. I have been an MLS supporter since the very beginning. I used to go watch Columbus play when they played in the Horseshoe (Ohio State’s football stadium). I regularly go to MLS matches. I own Crew apparel and buy their gear. I watch MLS on TV. My issues with MLS are issues that other people obviously see as well, so I find it puzzling that I am immediately labeled a “Eurosnob” the minute I begin to read this blog.

  9. Leon says:

    Are we at war with the EPL? If someone falls for soccer after seeing a quality product on TV, aren’t they more likely to then or someday track down their local team to see a match in person? Why should every American have to bow down to the MLS when it represents 13 (and soon 14) American media markets. I haven’t got a team near me. If I ever did, I would get behind them. In the meantime I can support my local USL side who finish in the fall, and follow my EPL side through the winter and spring. This article was frivolous.

    • Matthew N says:

      You’re seeing it spot-on, mate. Even if someone prefers the European game, it is still important to support local clubs and youth squads, since it helps player development in our country. The MLS will probably always be the premier place to develop American talent that wasn’t picked up by the Euros, so it serves a very important role in our development as a nation.

      • Chris in Belfast says:

        Even more than that, in the future, if the league and its teams get their act together, I see the league as becoming the most reliable place to develop players again. The US National Team can’t rely on foreign clubs to develop the young players, so what MLS can do is get kids into an academy set-up stateside, get them a few professional games, and then work on selling the best ones on, and keeping the others for further polishing.

  10. Adam Edg says:

    Bandwagon – You make asome good points. But I draw exception to your “retarded ManU jerseys” comment. I proudly have a 2002-ish blue #7 Nike ManU jersey that I have owned for years. It’s awesome, thank you. I proudly support the Reds in my blue shirt.
    I make it a point to watch/TIVO every Fire game and most Houston games. Sometimes I’ll grab the odd Seattle or Galaxy game too. With the EPL, I only TIVO ManU games. Even then it is usually when they play one of the other superpowers. Parity is a large reason why MLS gets more attention from me. It is anyone’s game to win – unless you are a NYRB fan.

  11. Charles says:

    I love the type of comments like this from Matthew N…..

    “American viewers are dumb and uninitiated, for the most part”

    Are you American, because you are a viewer ? Please DON’T go to the MLS games, it would be too hard to switch seats in the sold out QWest and I would have to listen to your superior knowledge complaining the whole game. Leave the seat to a dumb American, who will have a good time.

    I watched a Chelsea vs. non-top four game once this year because the Sounders had played Chelsea and I wanted to see how the Sounders stacked up against a never-will-win of the EPL. It was the most boring game ever. The talent, sure it was good, but the never-will-win didn’t have a chance from the opening kickoff and it was very evident.
    Which leads me to believe that almost everyone watching the EPL in America is a bandwagon jumping, frontrunner rooting fan, because there is no way they could keep rooting/watching the losers for too long.

    • sam says:

      Proud spurs fan right here and I do hate all my friends for jumpin on the wagons of the top teams, AND Isupport my local mls team and usl, and agree, if you remove the big four the league is very clost to mls

    • Matthew N says:

      Your comment shows how little you really know about me. When I attend, I am always in the supporters section, always standing, always singing at the top of my lungs. I love the MLS, but to ignore its flaws is to do it a disservice. If you really love something, you should want it to improve. I have been to at least one MLS match every season since the beginning (except for a few years when I was in the military), and I went to 4 games at Crew Stadium this year (and I have quite a drive to do so). It is possible to criticize something and still like it.

  12. Charles says:

    “It is anyone’s game to win – unless you are a NYRB fan.”

    They were aweful this year, but it was almost like you were making a joke to prove the point that it IS anyones to win, as they played in the last MLS Cup.

  13. Charles says:

    Leon,
    I don’t think that we are at war with the EPL, but the biggest problem the MLS has right now is the quality doesn’t stack up.
    Why ? Because the revenue isn’t there, why isn’t the revenue there, because the EPL snobs are too good for the MLS. Read comments by most ( read Matthew Ns comment for a great example )
    It has been this way for many, many, many years. Go back to rec.sport.soccer on Usenet if you want to see great examples.

    They want the MLS and soccer in US to fail ( not guys like Adam Edg above obviously) and that it what causes the ‘war’ you ask about.

    • Leon says:

      Charles,
      I think the vast, vast perhaps silent majority of American fans want the MLS to be great soccer someday and also somewhere that they can have the joy of supporting a club.
      I am not an EPL “snob” as you say, I support Hull City (and have since they were in the Championship, didn’t jump on with last year’s success or Altidore’s arrival). One of the things that gives me that MLS cannot is a great fan experience. Which is more exciting the European transfer window or the MLS Draft? I can also find daily radio sports talk and debate about my EPL club on the internet.
      I do occasionally watch the MLS and the quality is generally improving. I think geographic expansion and loosening the centralized control of the league down the road will bring more fans around down the line. But as I said previously, there will still not be a war. What true fan would shutter things at the end of MLS and then ignore soccer for 5 months? Why not wake up on a winter’s morning and watch the world’s best before heading out to enjoy your saturday or sunday?

    • Matthew N says:

      “Because the revenue isn’t there, why isn’t the revenue there, because the EPL snobs are too good for the MLS. Read comments by most ( read Matthew Ns comment for a great example )”

      I can about guarantee you I spend more time/money on MLS than 99.9% of the general population. I have a good 1.5-2 hour drive and I usually have to leave right after work to make the matches if I want to go, and I still manage to attend 4-5 a year. I also buy apparel, tickets to charity events, etc. The revenue isn’t here because the majority of Americans couldn’t give two shits about soccer (the blunt truth). We want the MLS to succeed because we love this country and we love the US Men’s National Team. Seriously, have you ever met a US soccer fan that dislikes the USMNT? The development of the MLS is key to the improvement of our nation’s soccer as a whole. We all want the MLS to succeed. If we confront the reasons why some soccer fans may dislike it, we can make the league more popular overall. There isn’t much we can do about turning the general public into soccer fans, that can only happen over time/generations.

  14. Martek says:

    Regardless of the parsing, the point that is inescapable is that MLS as a league is growing and that the core of supporters/viewers is expanding as well. This is far more important than MLS’ performance up against EPL, Serie A, La Liga, etc. Those are apple and orange comparisons.

    And speaking of orange, here in Houston, Dynamo were the only pro sports team to show an increase in average attendance from 2008 to 2009. That’s beating out Astros (decline), Rockets (way down) and Texans (2009 data obviously not available yet, so that decline is from 2007-08). And this in a recessionary time.

    The key is how the change and growth is managed, so that there’s no walkback. And the big test is going to be just how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement looks when or if it comes around. If the unthinkable happens and there is a significant work stoppage, then the NHL comparisons may be all too tragically apt.

  15. Hal says:

    I’d be willing to bet the numbers are even higher for MLS and EPL in the US if you take in viewers that aren’t watching from home.

    Soccer is a social/community viewing sport, as much if not more so than other sports. The old “Nielsen Family” method is not the optimal way to measure viewership, even though they’ve made changes in their methodology. Until a new way to track viewership from anywhere (I’ve read about using a pager system in Canada to track viewership), I think soccer ratings are going to be skewed downward slightly.

  16. jack says:

    kartik,

    you really are a bit pathetic. if the poor quality of your mls takes over the premier in viewers, you should not be proud, you should actually be ashamed. it means that your fanbase are a bunch of ignorant fools that do not understand the game.

    mate, even the cocacola championship is way better than your overated mls. i am genuinely impressed with all the rubbish you write. i thought you were better than that.

    • bgix says:

      jack – “you really are a bit pathetic. if the poor quality of your mls takes over the premier in viewers, you should not be proud, you should actually be ashamed.”

      Any loser can adopt a team thousands of miles away, and pat themselves on the back when they win, and never get to experience a genuine supporters experience of absolute ecstasy of victory and dejection of defeat. Having a local side that you can get behind as part of a local community is second to none. I route for Liverpool and Celtic from afar, and am pleased by their victories, but that never compares to personal connection I feel to my Sounders, who were not chosen to be my side, but are rather my natural team.

      Euro-snobs that use the extraordinarily lame “level-of-play” out of hand dismissal of the MLS or even USL or College competitions are all posers, that really just don’t get it at all.

      SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SIDE!!!

  17. Mike says:

    Great news! Thanks for posting this info.

  18. Nick says:

    The only reason for this disparity between the ratings is the times that games are shown. While I am a fan of MLS, it makes me cringe to see the ratings should those games be shown at the early morning or mid workday times that the EPL plays games. This

  19. Adam Edg says:

    On the money, Charles. I was using NYRB’s success last year and their fall this year to prove my point.
    Plus it gave me an excellent chance to get a rip on the Bulls. I hated NY when they wore red and black stripes and hate them still. Not really their fault; I hate almost all NY teams…
    parity provides entertainment.

  20. Carlitos says:

    As a devout follower of Soccer in my adopted country (USA) and one of the original forum followers of the only soccer forum on the Net – USENET rec.sport.soccer. No, no Mosaic or Firefox, Chrome back then but it was beautiful, An international group made of people who knew and followed the sport well. I reported/commented on matches and “torneos” in the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL and pretty much everyone got along – Italians, folks from the America and other parts of Europe. I remember fondly an Englishman – Gary Archer who was an Encyclopaedia of Futbol, Marcelo Weinberger from Uruguay, Arturo from Mexico, a Napolitano whose name escapes me and a bunch of others..

    There was no MLS back then, the WC had not been held in the USA.. The Naysayers thought that soccer would never make in this country. Little did they understand our ability to play and market a product.

    I mainly keep up with the leagues nowadays. H/W my long winded point is that I never thought this day would come. The EPL (was not called that at the time, it was the English 1st Div.). My favorite leagues were the Italian and Argentinean leagues. If you really love the game, don’t adhere to fanaticism – follow and appreciate The Game. Once the EPL abandoned the “Long Ball” and teams like Man U./Arsenal and many others started playing beautiful soccer, the EPL has now become one of my favorite leagues (except for the long air balls and sometimes extremes physical games, same as the Deutch League. I still prefer, today, La Liga and the Argentinean League (Brasil too!).

    Finally do not dismiss the sophistication that now exists in the American (USA) fan and players so readily. The Seattle Sounders have packed their stadium almost every single game of this season. I know a bit about soccer, having played since I was 4, coached and played for over 20 years and having an extensive library of systems, tactics and history (Go Wolves!).

    Do not dismiss the numbers, “Merkins” (as we fondly use to refer to the few American followers from the USA in r.s.s.) are some of the best at maintaining accurate statistics for several obvious reasons. No, I am not talking in the baseball sense!

    Long Live, the MLS, the USA National Team AND Youth Soccer in the USA!!!

    Carlos Rimola

  21. CarlosT says:

    I wouldn’t make too much about the financial troubles in world soccer right now. Once the economy starts to recover, the money will start to flow again and the situation will return to something very much like the status quo ante. There are a lot of reasons an MLS-style system is extremely unlikely to take root in Europe, but one of the biggest is any league in Europe that takes the first step towards limiting itself would be pretty much declaring their surrender in European competition. Enough bad performances and their league coefficient will go to hell and they’ll actually losing spots in the competitions and that means more lost revenue and the cycle goes on from there. So, no, in twenty years Europe will not be more like MLS.

    Berating fans of other leagues for not supporting it just makes MLS sound like taking your vitamins or eating your vegetables. MLS needs to compete on the basis of the product it’s offering, not on being the civic duty of a soccer fan living in the US.

  22. eplnfl says:

    Why should there be a division among readers on this post I do not know. Ok, I will grant that Kartik’s insight that fans are voting for monetarily restrained American brand of soccer by their viewing habits seems to me to be misplaced or not necessary.

    The facts are important, sort of the naked truth is that American’s are watching the MLS. For those of us American’s who have soccer as a religion I say Thank God and hope he is a Fire fan! Ultimately, increased #’s of viewers lead to a better domestic league. A better domestic league is in the interest of all American soccer fans. A few Eurosnobs and EU citizens are upset by the numbers but other than that we should all be encouraged by the growth of the game we love in America.

    I feel that both ESPN and FSC should get some of the credit here. Both have committed themselves to presenting MLS action in an attractive form to the viewer. Both are giving extensive pre and post game time to the league and in ESPN’s case to World Cup and national team coverage. Many here claimed that ESPN not establishing a game of the week format would hurt there coverage but it appears not to be the case. FSC we all know has a Saturday game of the week and that has seemed to become appointment Tv for American soccer fans.

    True fans which fortunately seem to be in the majority simply want a local team to root for. When we go out to the park who cares if we have only one DP per team just as long as the home team wins. So gang LETS BE HAPPY, THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT!

    • sam says:

      Bravo!
      Bravo my friend, that post was killer
      and i mean that entirely, and unless all european teams commit to a cap, it wont work, the “galacticos” would never happen as much as i thaem, it makes it exciting and ill give the euro leagues more excitment, alloe the mls playoffs and uefa champs league are far better to watch, quick idea, combine usl, mls, draw teams to large groups, like two mls and three usl(2 usl 1, 1 usl 2), ans play group stage with best teams advancing to playoffs, or second group stage if too mant teams, then playoffs then winner, take teams that didnt make it, do 2nd torny that would be exciting and nearly every game would matter

    • In fairness, MLS still lags far behind the EPL on FSC, but I chalk that up to the anglicized style of the audience FSC attracts. People who pay extra to get FSC often do so in order to see the Premier League. FSC even said to Beau Dure or someone else who wrote a piece that building the WPS, USL and College Soccer brands weren’t priorities at the network.

      Moreover, FSC seems committed to promoting everything Premier League or English. Serie A has suffered greatly in the US, by being on the network instead of GOL TV. The Bundesliga has benefited by the opposite move.

    • Carlitos says:

      Well Said eplnfl! Soccer/Futbol/Football has predominantly united rather than divided. Yes, There will always be fanatics but they are in the minority not at all in the majority. I lived in London for 1 year and Munchen for 1 year too and have traveled to Australia, Central and South America, and of course the USA and everywhere you find that the majority of fans are families and sophisticated followers who love the beautiful game and their team. I wrote Go Wolves! because few people know the heroics and the legend and legacy that Wolverhampton became.

      I am also fond of the great teams that should already have a WC Title under their wing – primarily the great Hungarian team of Puskas (who excelled in Real Madrid) and who can forget the great Clockwork Orange (Netherlands/Holland) under the wing of Cruyff, Niskins and many others as well as the teams than won the European Cup with Gullit, Rijkard and, one of my favorites ever, the Gazelle (because of his finesse) Marco Van Basten. I can’t leave out the great Brazilian teams, particularly the 1970 WC winners with Pele, Garrincha, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto and the final against Italy who were somewhat at a disadvantage having eliminated Germany in one of the most exciting semi-finals in WC history. That German team was also one of my favorite ever with Beckenbauer at his best and the great Gerd Muller. That semi-final between Italy and Germany counts as one of the greatest WC games in my book.

      I won’t bore you any more but I do recommend that you appreciate the game, great players and great matches, regardless of nationalities.

      CR.

      PD. I don’t mean to leave out Portugal, Africa and South America that have produced some great players. Just not enough time..

  23. dont_buy_it says:

    Where is the empirical data (link)? Or, I’m just suppose to believe you? Once again, you only see what you want to see. Get real dude.

  24. Elisa says:

    It’s too early to compare. Spain is in week 9 and England in week 11? You gotta add Spanish and English language. Plus Espn is doing little in promotion and at least for La Liga is not consistently airing the shows at the same time or date. In fact I’d rather watch ESPN Deportes, Direct TV or Gol TV because of the predictability. Compare at the end of the competitive season for Europe.

    • Michael says:

      I don’t think this is true, for the same reason “Euro-snobs” hate MLS: there are no playoffs to “pay off” the season, and thus no real attraction for the US viewer who doesn’t already know and love EPL or La Liga. And the FA/League cups have already been on US cable for years, so there isn’t going to be some surge of interest there.

      The UEFA CL is fast becoming the league new people “get into.” It’s got the top teams without those pesky Burnleys or Udineses or Racing Santanders, plus it has playoffs and a big, glitzy final! I don’t know if it’s good for the game that only the top 2% of Euro teams are deemed watchable by some people, but there it is, and it’s where the ratings will be.

      • Chris in Belfast says:

        We may also see an up-tick in viewing after MLS’s season is done, too. I don’t think the leagues eat into each other’s viewership a ton, but there might be just enough to notice a difference.

  25. Rex says:

    MLS success is about geography. I started watching because I had a local team and now I am hooked. I do admit, I don’t watch many games between the likes of Columbus, Dallas, Colorado, or New England.

  26. Lee14 says:

    Great Post and comments and whatever the reason it is exciting to te see the MLS ratings up vs down. and I don’t care if they are in front or behind the EPL, La Liga, etc… I’m just happy it seems to be positive.

    I grew up playing soccer in the eighties with a friend from England and actually helped start our high school teams program. He was and still is an avid Chelsea supporter but he appreciates the MLS and will occasionally tune in. What both of us don’t understand is why people living in this country that enjoy football elsewhere feel the need to bash the local product just because the American league doesn’t have the money or drawing power of a Real Madrid.

    I like most on this forum enjoy watching the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Argentine, Serie A, etc… However I will never stop supporting my local league or team regardless if I live in that teams city or not because it is a lot easier to get to a game inthe states than overseas and I love the opportunity to see such players as a Fredy montero, Freddi Ljundberg, David Beckham, Jaime Moreno, Landon Donovan, etc… play and other young ones develop such as a Clint Dempsey and more recently the great rookie class of 2009 in MLS like a Chris Pontius. And the only way that the product on the field will ever improve is for all soccer fans to support the league so that hopefully in the years to come the overall quality and style of the league will improve with more money but in the meantime I still have the opportunity to see in person a decent product or the highest level one in this country, be part of some great in stadium atmospheres and supporters clubs, talk on forums like this and see some great individual players play live that I never would have had the opportunity to see if not for the MLS. Hopefully Thierry Henry is soon to add his name to that list:)

    I think anyone that turns their back on that is just missing out and it is their loss because at the end of the day we all love the game and you can watch your Man U’s and Chelseas’ play and still support and attach yourself to your local team and get a fun fan experience that you can be a part of.

    • Carlitos says:

      Great post Lee!

      At the end of the day, we just need to conclude if we are mindless fanatics for ONE team, country or player OR do we truly love the Beautiful Game.

      Thanks,

      CR

  27. ddtigers says:

    It is very hard to understand why euro snobs would read anything on MLSTalk? The very name must turn them off.

    I love ELP but I also love MLS. I don’t care if it is different with playoffs for the cup. That is how sports have been for years in the USA and it has been fine until now. The playoffs have helped with the interest and excitement for MLS. I say call the supporters shield the league championship winner and the MLS cup the the end of season knockout tourey. Keep supporting our league.

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