Last weekend’s Manchester United against Chelsea match televised live on ESPN2 scored the largest viewing audience number ever for a Premier League game on US television. By U.S. standards, an incredible 526,000 viewers in 420,000 households watched the broadcast which kicked off at 7:30am ET on Saturday, April 3, 2010.
ESPN’s previous record for the largest viewing audience for a Premier League match on US television was from August 2009 when 398,391 viewers watched Liverpool against Aston Villa for a Monday 3pm ET match. In comparison, Fox Soccer Channel’s largest viewing audience for an EPL match was from February, 2009 when 298,000 viewers watched Liverpool versus Chelsea. For the 2008-09 season, Fox averaged 90,000 viewers per Premier League match. ESPN2’s average viewing number for the 2009-10 season has been much higher.
The estimated 526,000 viewers for the Manchester United against Chelsea match is even more impressive when you consider that the game was shown live at 4:45am PT on the west coast of the United States.
Worryingly for Major League Soccer, the viewing figures for the Man United against Chelsea game trounced the TV viewing numbers for the opening game of the 2010 MLS season featuring Seattle Sounders against Philadelphia Union, which was televised live on ESPN2 on a Thursday night during prime-time. Only 285,000 viewers watched the game, which was down 14% from the previous year when 327,000 watched Red Bull New York against the Sounders.
Games between Manchester United and Chelsea are often one of the highlights of the Premier League calendar year, but this past weekend’s game was even more exciting for soccer fans in the United States who were able to watch the match in HD on ESPN2.