This past weekend, Major League Soccer and its TV partners pulled out all of the stops to try to boost its fledgling TV ratings. Unfortunately despite the much hyped MLS Rivalry Week, the results yet again failed to move the needle.
First, FOX had its first-ever MLS game that aired nationally on FOX broadcast television. Not only that, but FOX and MLS worked together to feature the game immediately after the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Crystal Palace, hoping that fans of English soccer would continue watching the Hudson River derby.
Second, the Sunday game between Cascadia Cup game between Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps was featured on the main ESPN network, which meant that the more high-profile Copa del Rey final between Sevilla and Barcelona was pushed to ESPN2.
And third and finally, the California Clásico between San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy was featured prominently on FOX Sports 1 during primetime.
Everything was primed for Major League Soccer to make a big splash.
So how did MLS do against the competition?
For those MLS and FOX executives hoping that the FA Cup viewers would stick around to watch the New York City-New York Red Bulls game, they would have been disappointed by the fact that 41% of the average viewing audience that watched Manchester United beat Crystal Palace didn’t watch the Hudson River derby. The average viewing audience for the FA Cup Final was 1,018,000 compared to the average viewing audience of 595,000 for NYCFC-New York Red Bulls.
The New York derby viewing audience number is disappointing especially when you consider that New York City is the number one TV market in the United States. There are 7.3 million homes that have televisions in New York, which represents 6.5% of the total in the USA.
Moving to Sunday, despite being on ESPN, the average viewing audience number for the Portland-Vancouver game failed to beat Sevilla against Barcelona, which was on ESPN2. Three thousand more viewers, on average, watched the Copa del Rey final than the MLS game. Although
Third and finally, the Sunday night primetime broadcast of San Jose against Los Angeles generated a viewing audience average of 210,000 across FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes. The 151,000 of those viewers who watched the game on FOX Sports 1 is 23% below FS1’s average for the 2015 MLS regular season.
Meanwhile, here are the soccer TV ratings from May 19-25, 2016 for all live games shown on US television:
|Pos.||Teams||No. of viewers||TV Network||Game time (ET)||Date|
|1||Monterrey vs. Club America||1,395,000||Univision Deportes||9:30-11:30pm||Sat., May 21|
|2||Man United vs. Crystal Palace||1,160,000||FOX & FOX Deportes||12:30-3:10pm||Sat., May 21|
|3||New York City vs. Red Bulls||636,000||FOX & FOX Deportes||3:30-5:30pm||Sat., May 21|
|4||Leon vs. Pachuca||498,000||Univision Deportes||9-11pm||Thurs., May 19|
|5||Sevilla vs. Barcelona||466,000||ESPN2||3:30-6pm||Sun., May 22|
|6||Portland vs. Vancouver||463,000||ESPN||5-7pm||Sun., May 22|
|7||USA vs. Ecuador||429,000||ESPN2||8-10pm||Wed., May 25|
|8||Pumas vs. Independiente||427,000||FOX Deportes||9-11pm||Tues., May 24|
|9||Pachuca vs. Leon||395,000||Univision Deportes||9-11pm||Sun., May 22|
|10||Puerto Rico vs. USA||304,000||FOX Sports 1||Noon-2pm||Sun., May 22|
|11||LA Galaxy vs. San Jose||210,000||FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes||7:30-9:30pm||Sun., May 22|
|12||Philadelphia vs. DC United||190,000||UniMas & Univision Deportes||7-9pm||Fri., May 20|
|13||England vs. Turkey||180,000||FOX Sports 2 & FOX Deportes||Noon-2pm||Sun., May 22|
|14||USA vs. Ecuador||161,000||Univision Deportes||8-10pm||Wed., May 25|
|15||Boca Juniors vs. Nacional||120,000||FOX Deportes||7-9:30pm||Thurs., May 19|
|16||Atletico vs. Rosario||109,000||FOX Deportes||9:30pm-Midnight||Thurs., May 19|
|17||Puerto Rico vs. USA||105,000||Univision Deportes||Noon-2pm||Sun., May 22|
|18||Frankfurt vs. Nurnberg||75,000||FOX Sports 1||2:30-4:30pm||Thurs., May 19|
|19||Nurnberg vs. Frankfurt||67,000||FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes||2:30-4:30pm||Mon., May 23|
|20||Mali vs. Mexico||54,000||beIN SPORTS Español||9:45-11:45am||Sun., May 22|
|21||Bulgaria vs. Mexico||29,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||11:30-1:30pm||Tues., May 24|
|22||PSG vs. Marseille||26,000||beIN SPORTS||3-5pm||Sat., May 21|
|23||Almeria vs. Real Oviedo||25,000||beIN SPORTS Español||1:15-3:15pm||Sun., May 22|
|24||Bulgaria vs. France||23,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||1:45-3:45pm||Fri., May 20|
|25||NY Cosmos vs. Eibar||16,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||10pm-Midnight||Wed., May 25|
|26||Houston vs. Real Sociedad||15,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||7:30-9:30pm||Tues., May 24|
|27||Paraguay vs. England||13,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||1:30-3:30pm||Wed., May 25|
|28||Portugal vs. Guinea||12,000||beIN SPORTS Español||12:45-2:30pm||Sat., May 21|
|29||San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Sociedad||10,000||beIN SPORTS||7-9pm||Fri., May 20|
|30||Vallodolid vs. Girona||9,000||beIN SPORTS Español||2:30-4:30pm||Tues., May 24|
|31||Legales vs. Huesca||9,000||beIN SPORTS Español||2:30-4:15pm||Sat., May 21|
|32||Guinea vs. Japan||9,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||11:30am-1:30pm||Wed., May 25|
|33||Gimnastic vs. Osasuna||8,000||beIN SPORTS Español||3:30-5:30pm||Wed., May 25|
|34||Japan vs. Portugal||8,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||11am-1pm||Mon., May 23|
|35||Mexico vs. Czech Republic||6,000||beIN SPORTS Español||10:45am-12:45pm||Fri., May 20|
|36||England vs. Portugal||6,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||1:20-3:20pm||Thurs., May 19|
|37||Philadelphia Fury vs. Eibar||5,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||5-7pm||Sun., May 22|
|38||Indy 11 vs. Minnesota||4,000||beIN SPORTS||7:30-9:30pm||Sat., May 21|
|39||England vs. Guinea||4,000||beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español||1-3pm||Mon., May 23|
|40||Guinea vs. Paraguay||0||beIN SPORTS||11:30am-1:30pm||Thurs., May 19|
|41||France vs. Mali||0||beIN SPORTS||1:30-3:30pm||Tues., May 24|
Note that viewing figures for soccer games shown on the over-the-air Univision network or Telemundo have not been made available.