Saturday’s live broadcast of the 2013 MLS Cup on ESPN had an average viewing audience of 505,000, which is the least-viewed MLS Cup ever on English-language television.
The previous record low was the 748,000 viewers who watched the 2010 MLS Cup between Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas. That game had a 0.44 TV rating, but the viewing audience was greater than the 2013 MLS Cup due to the 2010 game being shown at night instead of the 4pm ET broadcast between Sporting KC-Real Salt Lake.
The 2012 MLS Cup between between LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo had a 0.7 TV rating and was viewed by an average of 797,000 people. The 2013 MLS Cup viewership was down 44% from 2012.
The disappointing 505,000 viewing audience figure for the Sporting Kansas City against Real Salt Lake game follows the 29% decline in regular season MLS TV ratings on ESPN compared to last year, as well as a 8% decline on NBCSN.
The 505,000 number is the same as the viewing audience for a repeat of Everybody Loves Raymond, which was shown on TBS at the same time as the second half of the 2013 MLS Cup. In contrast, 514,000 viewers watched MLS Cup 2013 on UniMas.
In comparison to Premier League matches, the 505,000 people who watched MLS Cup 2013 was fewer than the 507,000 who watched Chelsea-Southampton on Sunday, December 1 at 11am ET on NBCSN but slightly greater than the 499,000 viewers who watched Arsenal versus Everton (played on Sunday at 11am ET on NBCSN).
TV ratings for MLS’s premier game, MLS Cup, from 1996 to 2013 are:
0.5 2013: *Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake (ESPN)
0.7 2012: Los Angeles-Houston (ESPN)
0.8 2011: Los Angeles-Houston (ESPN)
0.4 2010: Colorado-FC Dallas (ESPN)
0.8 2009: Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles (ESPN)
0.6 2008: Columbus-New York (ABC)
0.8 2007: Houston-New England (ABC)
0.8 2006: Houston-New England (ABC)
0.8 2005: Los Angeles-New England (ABC)
0.8 2004: D.C. United-Kansas City (ABC)
0.6 2003: San Jose-Chicago (ABC)
0.8 2002: Los Angeles-New England (ABC)
1.0 2001: San Jose-Los Angeles (ABC)
0.7 2000: Kansas City-Chicago (ABC)
0.7 1999: D.C. United-Los Angeles (ABC)
1.0 1998: Chicago-D.C. United (ABC)
1.4 1997: D.C. United-Colorado (ABC)
1.4 1996: D.C. United-Los Angeles (ABC)
The last time a MLS Cup had a TV rating of 1.0 was in 2001.