MLS audience jumps 38% for MLS Cup Playoffs across ESPN and ESPN2

Buoyed by the increased interest in watching MLS games because of the Columbus Crew controversy, ESPN’s audience for the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs is up 38 percent entering this weekend’s MLS Cup Final. The seven playoff matches on ESPN and ESPN2 to date have delivered an average audience of 343,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, up from 249,000 viewers for the six playoff matches in 2016. It is ESPN’s most-viewed MLS Cup Playoffs since 2014 (344,000 viewers).

Five of the seven matches on ESPN networks were the most-viewed MLS Cup Playoff games on national television in 2017, led by first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship – Columbus Crew SC vs. New York City FC – on Tuesday, Oct. 31. That match averaged 426,000 viewers.

Additionally, the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on ESPN/ESPN2 in 2017 have delivered significant increases across key demos:

· Viewership in the coveted men 18-34 demo is up 61 percent (71,000 vs. 44,000 in 2016); and men 18-49, up 44 percent (141,000 vs. 98,000 in 2016).

· Average viewership for 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on ESPN/ESPN2 among adults 18-34 is up 65 percent (99,000 vs. 60,000 in 2016); and adults 18-49, up by 49 percent (198,000 vs. 133,000 in 2016).

Here are the top five MLS Cup Playoff games on TV in 2017:

Rank Game Viewer No. Network Date
1 Columbus vs. New York City FC 430,000 ESPN 10/31/17
2 Columbus vs. Toronto FC 426,000 ESPN 11/21/17
3 Seattle vs. Houston Dynamo 397,000 ESPN 11/30/17
4 Atlanta vs. Columbus Crew 319,000 ESPN2 10/26/17
5 Toronto vs. New York Red Bulls 312,000 ESPN 11/5/17

The top 10 markets for 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs on ESPN networks:

1. Columbus (1.6),
2. Seattle-Tacoma (1.6),
3. Atlanta (0.7),
4. Dayton (0.5),
5. Portland (0.4),
6. Cincinnati (0.4),
7. Nashville (0.4),
8. Albuquerque (0.4),
9. Knoxville (0.3) and
10. Norfolk-Newport News (0.3).