Despite an embarrassingly low viewing audience of just 82,000 Sunday for MLS’s debut on NBC Sports, MLS got a boost Monday with a much more respectable viewing audience of 337,000 for ESPN2’s live coverage of Portland Timbers against Philadelphia Union, which was slightly higher than the viewing audience for Monday’s 4pm ET game between Arsenal and Newcastle United, also shown on ESPN2.
Arsenal versus Newcastle United had a viewing audience of 316,000 viewers. Both Portland against Philadelphia and Arsenal versus Newcastle had a 0.3 rating.
Over on ESPN Deportes, meanwhile, the Premier League match had a viewing audience of 47,600, while the MLS game had 46,478 viewers.
While ESPN2’s MLS game had the advantage of a 9:55pm ET kick-off compared to the Premier League game, which was shown during business hours, the viewing audience for the Portland-Philadelphia game is still impressive especially when you consider that ESPN/ESPN2’s average last season for MLS games on its network was 291,000.
The viewing audience for Arsenal against Newcastle United was also respectable, but nowhere near some of ESPN2’s previous records (albeit featuring much bigger teams playing against each other).