More Than 1 Million Soccer Fans In US Watched NBCSN’s Coverage of Chelsea-Manchester United

NBCSN broke through the one million viewers barrier on Sunday with its live coverage of the match between Chelsea and Manchester United. For the first time under NBC’s contract, a Premier League match was viewed by an average of more than one million people. And the figure of 1.019 million viewers was the second most-watched Premier League game of all time on US cable television (the record was 1.033 million for the Manchester derby on ESPN in 2012).

Given that Manchester United and Chelsea are the two most supported Premier League clubs in the United States, the record TV ratings for NBC Sports Group isn’t a surprise. Having said that, NBCSN put on an excellent production that featured Gary Lineker, which in itself is a reason for soccer fans to watch the program and may have helped boost the ratings.

The record audience for a Premier League match shown on US television is still the 2011 game between Chelsea and Liverpool that was shown on tape delay on FOX where an average of 1.67million watched the match. It makes you wonder whether NBC would ever consider broadcasting a live match on a Sunday on the free-to-air NBC network to try to break FOX’s record.

The Premier League and UK TV networks haven’t finalized which games in March will be moved to a Sunday, but there is a possibility that Chelsea vs Arsenal (March 22) and Manchester United vs Liverpool (March 15) could be moved to Sundays. And if so, NBC should seriously consider showing the games live on the over-the-air NBC network. In the 11am-1pm timeslot on NBC, typical programming includes children’s television and a financial show.

Following Sunday’s TV ratings, five of the six most-watched Premier League U.S. cable telecasts of all-time have come on NBCSN this season.

Be sure to bookmark the TV schedule for Premier League matches on US television and Internet.

32 thoughts on “More Than 1 Million Soccer Fans In US Watched NBCSN’s Coverage of Chelsea-Manchester United”

  1. Gaffer,
    Gary Lineker being part of the broadcast was amazing but mostly for us soccer fans, Joe Shmoe didn’t turn on NBCSN to see Gary Lineker or even the fly by night soccer fans. The ratings were higher because as you said earlier these are the 2 most popular English teams in the US.

    1. There’s no denying that Chelsea-Man United had a massive impact as the two teams featured, but I’m sure a lot of casual sports fans who aren’t hardcore soccernuts like ourselves tuned in to watch the game — particularly the ex-pats — because of Lineker.

  2. Broadcasting a match on Sunday morning would be tough for NBC. First, Meet the Press draws about 3 million viewers on average and has a credibility cache to it that makes it moving it unlikely for a pre-match coverage. Secondly, there are specific FCC mandates that each over the air affiliate must meet in terms of children’s programming and when it’s aired (e.g. you can’t show a kids’ show at 2 in the morning and claim that’s part of your children’s programming).

    I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s a lot more difficult than showing a match that starts in the afternoon.

    1. True, Meet The Press is over at 10am ET. But you have a point since Meet The Press is shown on tape delay on the west coast from 8am-9am PT, so it clash with a 8am-10am PT Premier League match on a Sunday morning.

      1. I wonder if the the Premier League would ever consider a slate of Saturday night matches for afternoon broadcast in the States if it meant another round of exponential growth in their US rights fees?

        1. Asia is still the number one priority for the Premier League, so if fixture times will ever change in the future, it’s more likely that they’ll be shown earlier in the day (early-to-mid morning ET) instead of mid-to-late afternoon ET.

        2. Saturday kick-off won’t go beyond 5.30 UK time. It’s not just the PL who decide on it, the Met wouldn’t agree to it. They find it hard enough on a Saturday night with it being the main night out of the week and city centres being full etc. Having thousands more people flooding in after a football match wouldn’t go down well because resources already have to be stretched to police the games as they are.

        3. US Market pays less for Premier League rights than the UK, Asian, Africa , Europe and South America. While the American market is important to the BPL due to the USA having the biggest media market in world, until the value of US rights catches up with the rest of the world, they will never consider changing kick off times for US audiences. The Premier League play 12pm kick off times for the Asian market because they pay well over £1000,000,000 for the rights. The US rights are just £250 Million so they cannot call the shots with the league until they pay more for the rights.

      2. In march the times are changed in England for day light savings time so I guess it is possible to have nbc show the games if say they would be at 4pm England time which would be 12et until the times change here.

        1. EXCELLENT point Chris. The clocks change in the US on March 9, while they don’t change in the UK until March 30 — which gives NBC an opportunity to take advantage of the four hour time difference instead of five to show an Noon ET game (which is usually the 11am ET game).

          1. Yeah I mixed up the time changs glad you understood. But yeah I wondered why nbc decided to have the 12 30 et games instead of the 11 am et since usually the elite clubs play each other at that time but you guys explained why. Btw gaffer do you have any tv ratings for telemundo or mun2 specifically this game? I am sure they have been doing great for ratings since its more available than fox sports en Espanol is and better commentators. Thanks

  3. Watching the Sky Sports clips posted earlier on this site illustrates Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher are still the ones to beat in the pre/post game shows. Keep posting their segments. Lineker and Lee Dixon did a good job. I enjoyed the part where Lee Dixon laughed at Lineker when Rebbecca Lowe cut him off to go the commercials.

    1. No disrespect but the NBC pretty much have C and D list of British broadcast talent when it comes to soccer. I would argue only Lowe and Lineker are a-list soccer talent.

      Here are list of the best soccer broadcasters in the UK.

      Ian Darke (BT sport)
      Martin Tyler (Sky Sports)
      Jonathan Pearce(BBC)
      Clive Tyldesley (ITV)
      Peter Drury (ESPN)

      Color Commentators:
      Andy Gray (Bein Sport)
      Stan Collymore (Talksport)
      Chris Kamara (Sky Sports)
      Gary Neville (Sky Sports)
      Jamie Redknapp (Sky Sports)
      Graham Souness (Sky Sports)

      James Richardson (The Guardian/BT Sport)

      Lineker (BBC)
      Andrian Childs (ITV)

  4. There isn’t much of a secret to ratings: Have two popular teams play each other. It’s a shame that United’s stars were largely injured. You wonder if United was having a better season if the ratings would have been even higher?

    I also wonder how much ratings for the other American sports vary. I mean, does Lakers/Celtics draw WAY better ratings than Rockets/Magic or Kings/Hawks?

  5. That number is even more impressive when considering the fact that no NHL regular season game has ever been watched by more than a million viewers on the same network (The record viewership for an NHL regular season game on NBCSN is 956,000).

    1. While it is impressive, other than Wednesday night rivalry and the 7 pm games on nbcsn, the big nhl games go on nbc and get better numbers. And plus the ratings do not include the winter classics obviously since they are on nbc. It is impressive though for epl coverage since the games are in the morning. I guess a main reason unless someone who could convience nbc to have an nbc game on Sunday when big clubs compete I’d that they would have to show the nhl on Sunday at 3 to fit in with epl coverage in march. Hopefully ratings increase when nbc expands to 85,000 homes in February up around 8,000 new homes.

          1. Like Dave said the two regular season games so far haveaveraged an 1.3 excluding of course the winter classic which doubled that. When epl games get around a 1 I will be very impressed. And the nhl on nbc regular games should be the standard for epl ratings since nhl on nbc is typically at 12 30 et on sundays

    1. It comes down to a few factors. Since rights were first sold in 1992, they were only sold for one Sunday afternoon and one Monday night game a week on Sky Sports. Since then, it’s just stuck and now the biggest game of the week is associated with 4pm on ‘Super’ Sunday. In reality it’s no longer like that now BT has got first pick matches but the perception is still there.

      Plus there’s the police factor again – what they call ‘sensitive fixtures’ (a Manchester derby, Liverpool v Man Utd or even a big fixture like Chelsea/Utd for example), would never ever be allowed to kick off at 5.30pm UK time on a Saturday because there’d be too much trouble. Every time Sky or BT make their live match selections, it’s only provisional until it’s been approved by the local police force. They always have the final say, even if a match isn’t scheduled for live broadcast they still have the power to move it to an earlier slot.

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