FOX and EPL Win Soccer TV Ratings War Against MLS and ESPN

FOX’s taped broadcast of Chelsea against Liverpool drew an overnight TV rating that nearly doubled the rating for ESPN’s primetime MLS Cup on Sunday, according to a USA Today report.

Chelsea against Liverpool got a 1.5 overnight, which translates to 1.5% of households while LA Galaxy against Houston earned a 0.8 overnight rating (much improved from last year’s 0.5 rating for Colorado Rapids against FC Dallas).

FOX’s overnight TV rating doesn’t factor in the number of viewers who also watched the game live on FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes.

The tape-delayed broadcast of the Premier League game was shown in most markets at 4:30pm or 2pm ET, while the 2011 MLS Cup was shown in primetime beginning at 9pm ET.

25 thoughts on “FOX and EPL Win Soccer TV Ratings War Against MLS and ESPN”

  1. As a Reds fan I was glued to the set for the live broadcast and had the Fox replay on in the background. I honestly forgot about the MLS Cup til I went to this morning.

    MLS should try showing thier games earlier. 9pm start means the game probably didn’t actually kickoff til 9:30.

  2. The ratings for the MLS Cup would have been higher if they had the game start at 7pm est an hour and 20mins BEFORE the Giants vs Eagles game at 8:20. They lost two big TV markets by starting the game at 9pm trying to cater to the west coast.

  3. I think the lead-in is a big part of this as well. Fox’s EPL match was lead-in by an NFL game which ended in OT. What was the lead-in for MLS Cup? I think it was college basketball, but I’m not sure.

  4. The lead-in to the MLS Cup was the final NASCAR race of the year.

    The MLS needs to move the title game away from the NFL; no matter what time they start they are never going to draw ratings opposite the Sunday Night Game.

    Grant Wahl threw out last week that MLS officials are considering a Tuesday night final, instead, which would get the game away from the NFL and college football.

  5. Did anybody else think the camera work was atrocious during the MLS Cup? It seemed the pitch was a million miles away. I got the distinct impression the cameraman had been told to keep the full stands visible in the top third of his shot at all times, which made the viewing experience really annoying. I saw a little bit of Twitter traffic to this effect, and it certainly kept me from watching more than 20 minutes or so. I wouldn’t expect this to have been a huge factor for most viewers, but it couldn’t have helped either.

    1. Yes, it was very difficult to watch. The play seemed very far away. It was difficult at times to tell which player was on the ball, and the ball itself was a disaster. Nice work Adidas/MLS. You think they would have tested the silver ball out for visibility ahead of time.

  6. I agree the ball was difficult to see at times and it looked the size of a golf ball at times. Terrible decision to play a silver ball.

  7. I couldn’t see the ball at the MLS final. I know it was the Jabulani abomination, but in addition to being the worst ball ever, it was difficult to actually see it. Well done, Adidas/MLS.

  8. Not surprising given the MLS game was a boring event. The network lead in is a big factor and the MLs game was up against the prime time NFL game.

    The New York times had a piece over the weekend about the commitment that FOX has made of soccer in the US and from the comments by FOX in the article it seems that The EPL. On FOX may be a fixture soon.

    All of this in the long run is good for MLS since the rise of the EPL has on the whole benefited MLS and soccer in America.

  9. I’d take more stock in this if ESPN also did not air any EPL matches at all, and I’m curious to know what the ratings of EPL matches are on ESPN vs. Fox Soccer. And also the fact that the Fox EPL Sunday replay of an earlier match of the day was up against only one NFL game on CBS vs. a Sunday Night Football matchup on NBC is taken into consideration, so this ratings thing isn’t much of a surprise.

  10. I have no prob with the MLS going head to head with NFL, but that 9pm start time was way too late. I know it’s played on the West Coast, but push it up a few hours so the whole country can enjoy it and still go to work on Monday morning.

    1. and so uk people can watch it. West coast matches are a pain in the arse, I wouldn’t even stay up till 2/3am to watch a premier league match nevermind an MLS match.

  11. MLS couldn’t have asked for a better lead in last night as the NASCAR race from Homestead in the last race of the season ended around 8:45 and ESPN did 15 min revealing the Top 25 in College Football before MLS coverage started. The race went to the final lap and was the seasons points title went to the winner Tony Stewart over Carl Edwards who finished second and lost the season title on a tie breaker because Stewart had more wins over the season. Could you imagine the outrage that would have ensued if the game was scheduled to start at 7pm and the NASCAR race was still going on because it was running late due to bad weather?

    As a TV product MLS would be best served if playoff games aired on Tuesday and Friday Nights avoiding the weekend and especially NFL/College Football.

  12. MLS fanboys should stop the excuses. For TEN STRAIGHT YEARS, MLS Cup Final has failed to draw even an 1.0 rating.

    The problem pure and simple is the product.

    I mean really, losing to a tape delay when anyone could have found out the result. Hell, I found out the result when I stupidly went to the espn site and still watched it.

    1. I agree Dennis. I watched the MLS Cup with an open mind and good intentions, but the standard of play was poor, the match was boring, the ball looked ridiculous (looked like a lead weight getting kicked around), and the condition of the pitch was awful.

      While a 9pm ET broadcast was late, and it could have benefitted from an earlier start time, it was still a primetime Sunday night broadcast.

      If the Chelsea against Liverpool game had been shown from 9:30-11:30pm ET and MLS Cup 2011 had been shown at 4:30pm ET or 2pm ET, I’m confident that FOX’s overnight TV ratings would still have been double that of MLS Cup.

      The Gaffer

  13. as a Houston person, I have to say that the Dynamo were atrocious to watch. They only came to defend. The Galaxy weren’t that better either. And someone pointed out the camera flaws as well. Spot on right! The camera angles were just bad. They couldn’t even get close enough to the pitch. And the silver ball was just awful; the pitch was badly laid out as well, despite the fact that it was raining. Compare that to the Spurs v. Aston Villa match and the pitch was in pristine conditon as you would expect a football pitch in England to be. Going back to the standard of football, it was just hard to watch, but I sat through and watched. And it didn’t help having my Yank roommate keep shouting shoot, pass, shoot, pass the ball. I tell ya, they are better keeping their mouths shut then showing off their lack of football knowledge. The quality of football was just bad. And look at the expressions on the players’ faces. They were looking like amateur Sunday-league players when they miscued a shot or a pass. When you watch a Premier League match, the players look like determined men on a mission and when they make a mistake, they don’t show a clueless expression on their face. And fans should be stopped from bringing drums and horns to the stadium. They should chant and sing like British football fans do, not like Mexicans.

  14. I watched the Final, felt it was a poor match but most finals tend to be a cagey affair anyway rather than a superb end of season showcase as ESPN or SKY would like us to believe. Camera angles were awful agree with the comment about wanting to show full stadium rather than the action LOL , pitch was poor, ball hard to see…overall it was just an average experience, which is what the MLS will always be to fans of most European Leagues. Not that there is anything wrong with that either. MLS is growing and the product is getting better and to be fair, just not my regular cup of tea.

  15. It all boils down to MLS players not having the skill offensively or defensively to make for an exciting game to watch. I watch the EPL because the players are better, making for better soccer and a more fun game to watch.

  16. MLS was up against the Giants vs Eagles, poor planning by MLS to have it at that time.

    It’s pretty disgraceful you see this as a war, hate to break it to you but MLS is your league. There is no reason not to watch both, the skill level really is not that much off.

    1. Dan, that’s where I disagree. How is it “my league” when the nearest MLS team to me is 1,000 miles away? I wish MLS all the best, but the skill level is way off and there are many reasons why fans are not watching both (indicated by the poor TV ratings for the 2011 MLS Cup).

      The Gaffer

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