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.