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.