Major League Soccer’s decision to take only part of the month of June off for the World Cup has come under some scrutiny in recent weeks.
Supporters of the schedule, and likely MLS owners as well, point to the potential for a World Cup TV ratings and interest bounce for the league. The thinking is that fans of the sport, with their appetites duly whetted, will be more likely to tune in for MLS games after checking out the action in South Africa.
Is it happening?
It may be too early to tell for sure, but there is some data available.
Seattle’s visit to Philadelphia for the opening of PPL Park had a 5 p.m. time slot on ESPN2 last Sunday. The Union won the game, 3-1, and drew a 0.2 rating, which equates to roughly 331,000 viewers.
That’s down slightly from a similar date and slightly later time slot last year, according to Sports Media Watch, but up significantly from other MLS broadcasts on ESPN so far this year (about 80 percent).
When the numbers come in for the Houston/Toronto game tonight on ESPN2, we’ll have an even better idea of what effect the 2010 World Cup might be having on MLS TV ratings.