EPL Is The Big Man On Campus This Week, Not MLS

TV Sports Ratings shared some very eyeopening numbers yesterday regarding this past Monday’s derby between Manchester City and Manchester United, which was televised live on ESPN to a record-breaking audience of more than 1 million viewers.

The most breathtaking stat is the TV rating for the ESPN broadcast among male college students living away from home — a 10.15 rating. Shouldn’t these students be in class? But seriously, that number and others (see below) are impressive given this was the first Premier League match shown live on ESPN during a weekday. Yes, it was the biggest Premier League match in the history of the league, but let’s hope it makes ESPN consider adding more Premier League matches to its flagship station.

In comparison, TV Sports Ratings shared TV ratings numbers for the NBC Sports live broadcast of New York Red Bulls (starring Thierry Henry) against New England Revolution. The match was shown during a more preferable Saturday afternoon timeslot than a mid-afternoon Monday Premier League match, and while the Red Bulls against the Revs is hardly in the same class as a Manchester derby, the numbers are still some painful reading given the way MLS fans hyped the league’s decision to sign with NBC Sports instead of signing a new TV rights deal with FOX Soccer.

Match Man City v Man Utd NYRB v New England
Network ESPN NBC Sports
No. Subscribers 99,000,000 75,000,000
Date/Time Monday, 2:30pm ET Saturday, 3:30pm ET
Viewing Audience 1,033,000 70,000
TV Rating (Men 18-49) 1.21 0.04
TV Rating (Male College Students Living Away Fr. Home) 10.15 0.28
TV Rating (Male College Students Not Living Away Fr. Home) 1.61 0.06
Median Age 28 46

If I’m an advertising executive or a large brand with dollars to spend on advertising, there’s only one league I’m going to buy commercial time on based on the above research data, especially if I want to get my brand in front of the elusive male 18-35 demographic.

H/T @TVSportsRatings

20 thoughts on “EPL Is The Big Man On Campus This Week, Not MLS”

  1. Biggest EPL game ever vs a forced rivalry (just because its NY vs Boston they must be rivals) at the beginning of the season. These two games should not be compared to each other Gaffer.

  2. Gaffer there’s a little more to discuss with Red Bull. That match was on against the NBA and NHL playoffs which of course will be more watched than an MLS match.

    On a personal note I went to the Red Bulls match which was entertaining but hardly comparable to any Premier League match especially a derby like Monday had. What an amazing sports day Saturday was here in the NYC area. Knicks and Rangers playing at the same time as well as Red Bull. I’ll take that every Saturday please.

  3. I was a bit confused by all the hype surrounding NBC Sports, and still am. I truly don’t think the current presentation of Major League Soccer is that much better than it was on Fox Soccer. I loved the Soccer Night in America. I liked the in-studio analysis of Wynalda & Sullivan. I loved the duo of Dellacamara & Martino. I don’t think Arlo White is better than JP, and I definitely don’t think the on-site stuff with Russ is even as good as the in-studio stuff FSC did.

    Sorry, but I believe FSC even offered more money than NBC Sports for MLS rights. And it doesn’t really matter if NBC Sports is in more homes if MLS isn’t even getting 1/7th of the viewership to tune in.

    Not ready to toss out the NBC experiment yet, but not seeing all the “greatness” many were saying it would be over FSC. Maybe time will tell, and I hope so, but right now I’m underwhelmed on every aspect.

  4. ESPN will always trump NBC Sports. Last Saturday, NBCS got the Red Bulls V NE Rev and this Saturday, ESPN gets the LA Galaxy V Red Bulls. So beyond the fact that the Manchester Derby was such an easy sell for college students (like myself), NBCS has alot of work to do to compete, even with a mid-day spot

  5. I wouldn’t read too much into that. The Revolution have one of the smaller fan bases in the league (lowest avg attendance). This game was competing with playoffs in other sports, plus baseball. The Man City/Man United match was basically on unopposed.

    A real good test of of TV ratings will be the 9/15 Sounders vs Portland game or the 9/29 Sounders vs Vancouver. All of those have large fan bases. Plus, you have at least 35,000 sounders fans who simply can’t go to the game.

  6. We shouldn’t be surprised by any of that but on the other hand MLS fans should be happy as to the rise in the popularity of the game in the US. Since the explosion of interest in the EPL took place in this country the interest in the MLS has greatly increased as well as the number of franchises and gate attendance. So as far as I am concerned the MLS fan in me says great that the EPL or Champions league has great interest in the US because its been shown to help the MLS.

    Also one should not forget the popularity of the Mexican League on US tv and the crowds that come out to see the Mexican National team play in the US. It’s all good for the sport. MLS has additional Spanish language coverage that helps grow the sport in America’s growing and important Latin Community.

    I say the more the merrier.

  7. Thank you. America is big enough to grow the sport in many different ways. I think we have the best soccer coverage on tv and the internet there may be. Obviously the papers have little coverage and radio is poor in coverage but the internet nowadays gives us access to things like the EPL Talk podcast.

      1. The MLS has been around since 1996 and has a salary cap of course the EPL is better you putz.

        The real sad thing is the NASL had some of the best players in the world playing here in the 60’s and 70’s but no cared enough to watch them.

  8. Can’t wait until the MLS is stable enough for teams to stay afloat in a promotion/relegation scenario.

    1. Frank, it’s absolutely not a random comparison. The comparison was made by TVSportsRatings for a game that was played during the same weekend, on a day (Saturday) that had more men 18-35 watching TV than a Monday afternoon.

      The Gaffer

  9. Different network, different package, different game, and different promotion. ESPN would’ve certainly trump NBCSN either ways…

        1. We’ll see this fall when the first MLS game will be on NBC free-to-air. Let’s hope NBC does well.

          The Gaffer

  10. Since this is the biggest game in the EPL, it should be compared to the MLS cup, not some random MLS game with two teams that are extremely unpopular. Completely terrible comparison.

    MLS cup also got over a million viewers. Obviously the EPL is more popular, but it’s not THAT more popular. MLS games are still averaging over 100K viewers on NBCSN and over 300K on ESPN2. The ESPN2 average is actually higher than the EPL regular season average.

    I don’t understand why people feel the need to constantly try to bring down MLS. EPL was always gonna be popular before MLS. Most people are first exposed to soccer via international soccer (world cup, euro, etc…). Then they are exposed to top level Euro club soccer. My prediction is that the next area of exposure and rising popularity will be MLS. EPL is currently in a growth spike right now, but MLS will eventually get a similar spike but will actually surpass EPL one day since it has more potential growth.

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