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Talk of EPL TV Ratings On ESPN2 Plateauing Are Premature And Misguided

espn2 logo Talk of EPL TV Ratings On ESPN2 Plateauing Are Premature And Misguided

Many soccer fans in the United States have posted here and on other sites that Nielsen Ratings for Premier League games shown on ESPN2 have flatlined. Based on the latest numbers from ESPN2, that is simply not true.

The reality is that the teams that were featured in the games shown by ESPN2 over the past two months had “flatlined” in that they featured teams that for the most part are not appealing to the mass of soccer fans in the States. Those teams include Burnley, Sunderland, Hull City, Birmingham City and others.

But when clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal are featured, the ratings rapidly increase.

Here are the Nielsen Ratings for the 18 Premier League games that ESPN2 has shown this entire season thus far (newest ratings are highlighted in bold). Plus, we have a chart that shows how the ratings have done from August through November, 2009 after the jump:

Top Nielsen Ratings for Premier League Games on ESPN2: August through November, 2009:

  1. Liverpool v Aston Villa,  8/24/2009, Monday, 3pm ET, 398391 viewers
  2. Portsmouth v Manchester United,  11/28/2009, Saturday, 10am, 396995
  3. Wigan v Man United, 8/22/2009, Saturday, 10am,  374799
  4. Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur, 10/31/2009, Saturday, 8:45am, 325187
  5. Manchester City v West Ham United, 9/28/2009, Monday, 3pm, 293600
  6. Portsmouth v Everton, 9/26/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 270927
  7. Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur, 10/3/2009,  Saturday, 10am, 265508
  8. Tottenham v Sunderland, 11/7/2009, Saturday, 10am, 259831
  9. Chelsea v Burnley, 8/29/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 253934
  10. Liverpool v Burnley, 9/12/2009, Saturday, 10am, 253779
  11. Aston Villa v Manchester City, 10/5/2009, Monday, 3pm, 248956
  12. Liverpool v Manchester City, 11/21/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 236247
  13. Fulham v Hull City, 10/19/2009, Monday, 3pm, 209207
  14. Aston Villa v Chelsea, 10/17/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 206886
  15. Wolverhampton Wanderers v Aston Villa, 10/24/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 204882
  16. Burnley v Sunderland, 9/19/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 199380
  17. Liverpool v Birmingham City, 11/9/2009, Monday, 3pm, 182138
  18. Chelsea v Hull City, 8/15/2009, Saturday, 7:45am, 164485

And here is the chart that shows the ratings from August through November:

epl tv ratings viewers on espn2 chart Talk of EPL TV Ratings On ESPN2 Plateauing Are Premature And Misguided

What the above chart shows is that a game featuring Portsmouth vs Manchester United will generate near record breaking TV ratings for ESPN2 because United were featured. Sadly for ESPN2, Manchester United are rarely featured on Saturday mornings or Monday afternoons, so Fox Soccer Channel benefits from the lionshare of United games which are shown on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings.

Looking at the Premier League TV schedule for US viewers for the next few months, ESPN2 may have a tough time getting ratings as high as they did for last week’s Portsmouth v Man United match. The schedule looks pretty dire for ESPN2.

Unfortunately the schedule has been unkind to ESPN2. For example, imagine what the ratings would be for an ESPN2 game at the perfect time of 10am ET if Manchester United were featured against Chelsea or Arsenal. At this rate we’ll have to wait until next season to see if there’s any chance of such a high profile Premier League match being featured on ESPN2. Between now and the end of this month, we should know whether Fox Soccer Channel has sublicensed any of its EPL rights to ESPN for the 2010-2013 seasons.


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About Christopher Harris

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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