ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel See Bounce in EPL TV Ratings

Both Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN saw a significant increase in their viewing audience numbers this past week for their coverage of the opening weekend of the Premier League on US television.

Manchester United against Newcastle United drew ESPN2’s largest-ever viewing number for a Monday Premier League game when 412,000 viewers watched the game. The match, which kicked off at 3pm ET, drew a 0.3 household coverage rating. ESPN2’s audience for their 7:45am ET/4:45am PT Saturday game between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City was a respectable 293,000 viewers especially considering that last season’s average viewing audience for a Premier League game on ESPN was 271,000. The game garnered a household coverage rating of 0.2.

Compared to last season, Monday’s Man United against Newcastle’s viewing audience was far greater than most Premier League games shown last season. The exception was the record 526,000 viewers who tuned in to watch Manchester United against Chelsea in April, 2010.

Over at Fox Soccer Channel, Sunday’s 11am ET game between Liverpool and Arsenal drew 291,000 viewers, which was the twelfth most watched FSC telecast of all time. Out of the four Premier League matches that Fox televised during the opening weekend, the games averaged a 0.4 household rating which is up 34% over last year’s opening weekend. Total viewers for the four games increased by an impressive 46% (194,000 viewers versus 133,000).

This weekend’s schedule of Premier League games on US television include Manchester City versus Liverpool (Monday, 3pm ET, ESPN2), Fulham against Manchester United (Sunday, 11am ET, Fox Soccer Channel), Arsenal versus Blackpool (Saturday, 10am ET, ESPN2), Newcastle United against Aston Villa (Sunday, 8:30am ET, Fox Soccer Plus) and many more.

The World Cup bounce that many of us were waiting for happened this past weekend with the increase in Premier League TV viewing numbers. While England underperformed as a nation in the tournament, the Premier League is so cosmopolitan that there are Premier League stars on practically every team including the two finalists, Spain and Netherlands. On top of that, interest in the Premier League was at a fever pitch during the World Cup with the world-class commentary and pundit teams that worked for ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel including Ian Darke, Martin Tyler, Roberto Martinez, Andy Gray, Richard Keys, Steve McManaman, Efan Ekoku and others.

For a comparison of how this season’s Premier League TV ratings compare to last season’s, view EPL Talk’s analysis of ESPN2’s EPL TV viewing figures for 2009-10.

20 thoughts on “ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel See Bounce in EPL TV Ratings”

  1. is ESPN Deportes is included in those numbers? if not, I’m guessing big numbers from Mondays game, because of Chicharito’s debute.

  2. I’m one of those new viewers. Was intrigued by the World Cup and decided to give the EPL a shot. It did not disappoint.

  3. Any word on the online numbers from for the Manchester United game Monday afternoon? With drawing big numbers during the World Cup, I’d be interested in knowing if that translated to good numbers for online Premier League games.

  4. whats the word on how these compare to a typical regular season baseball or basketball game? Where can you find these statistics? Some prospective would be awesome!

    1. July 26–Sports Business Journal:

      “In general, MLB’s national ratings have been flat. Fox’s 1.9 rating is even with last year, though its audience is up 2 percent to 2.845 million homes.

      ESPN’s numbers are down slightly, pulling a 1.0/1.123 million home average this year compared with last year’s 1.1/1.260 million. Ratings on ESPN2 are flat with last year: 0.7/852,000 homes.

      Turner’s ratings are flat (0.4 U.S. rating), though its audience is down slightly to 466,000 homes.”

  5. “Out of the four Premier League matches that Fox televised during the opening weekend, the games averaged a 0.4 household rating which is up 34% over last year’s opening weekend. Total viewers for the four games increased by an impressive 46% (194,000 viewers versus 133,000).”

    I’m confused by that last bit – are you saying the total number of viewers for all four games combined was only 194k (which can’t be right, given that 291k watched the Arsenal – Liverpool match alone)? Or that the average for the four games was 194k? Or 194k watched ALL FOUR games (which seems unlikely).

    But apart from that confusion, I think that paragraph is the most pertinent section – the only really informative statistic is to compare total viewers for this opening weekend with the same period last season. The other stats are pretty much non-sequiturs (i.e. Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool draw a lot of viewers, Man C vs Tottenham gets a higher than average number of viewers)

  6. Gaffer:

    Looks like DirectTV has added the HD channel on the channel line-up for FSC+ however it is not available yet. It actually says that the viewer is not subscribed to the channel. I knew from reading your updates that HD wasn’t going to be available for a while on FSC+ but found it odd that it’s listed on the channel line-up. Usually the HD channels just appear on the line-up when they start the HD transmission. Shouldn’t be long.

    1. FS+ HD on DirecTV Channel 621-1 is a part-time channel that airs LIVE events ONLY.

      The bandwidth for Channel 621-1 is dynamically allocated by DirecTV from the “pool” of bandwidth normally reserved for pay-per-view and interactive game services.

  7. I watched the EPL games last weekend and today Saturday, August 21 and I can tell you I am very happy I have. It is very entertaning and I plant to watch every weekend. I also recorded the Manchester United game on ESPN last Monday and will tape every Monday game. By the way, the striker from Chelsea Didier Drogba is an awesome player. Wow!

  8. Anyone know what game is being shown on FSC on Sunday August 29th at 10am Eastern? Their schedule says Spurs v Wigan Live – but that game is being played the day before.

    Any ideas?

  9. These ratings are blowing by MLS and at horrible start times.

    I hope the EPL doesn’t completely stymie the growth of MLS by taking a huge chunk of fans away.

    but none the less the ratings are very impressive.

    if the EPL was live in prime-time it would double MLS and that is with no local teams.

    1. Chris, I agree. This are some worrying times for MLS in terms of TV viewers. Attendances are up as an average throughout the league, but the TV numbers are dropping significantly. And I don’t see the TV numbers for MLS getting better anytime soon.

      The Gaffer

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