Connect with us


MLS TV Ratings Are Doomed Because Of Euro Football


TV ratings for Major League Soccer in the United States are doomed. Why? Because most soccer fans such as ourselves have been programmed to watch European football. Let me explain.

On a typical weekend or weekday, European football matches kick off in the morning or mid-afternoon. So, with our DVRs programmed to record the Champions League, midweek Premier League matches, or cup tournaments from Spain or Italy, we have a feast of games to choose from by the time we get home from work. What about that MLS game that’s scheduled for 9pm or 10pm ET that night? It becomes much less of a priority when we have the best of Europe cued up on our DVR player.

A similar thing happens on weekends. We’ve been programmed so much that we’re accustomed to getting up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to watch Premier League or Serie A matches, and to then enjoy late morning or mid-afternoon Bundesliga or La Liga games — that by evening time when MLS matches will be on television, we’re either burned out or ready to go outside to go to dinner or get some fresh air.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a market where there’s a local MLS team, then it’s a different story and you’re more likely to reconfigure your day to make time to go to a home game. But if you’re like most Americans where the television set is your door to soccer, Major League Soccer is becoming less of a priority especially now that Premier League and La Liga games are available on ESPN2 in HD.

The other point I want to make is that it’s very difficult for MLS to compete against the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and other European leagues. It can’t win the TV ratings war, but it can win the battle with other American sports for capturing entertainment dollars for American families.

Personally I want MLS to survive and flourish, but it needs to realize it can’t compete against the Euro leagues in the TV wars (the ratings have already shown that).

What are your thoughts about this? Click the comments link below and share your feedback.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. bongo

    September 29, 2009 at 10:31 am

    the problem is football is a poor mans game always has been like over here in the uk it was always like the upper class would play tennis and rugby n shit but the working class play football. most people who play football, in the whole world, do so because its the only way out you look at robinho, adebayor, rooney if they didnt play football they would all have been drug dealers in gangs and you can see just how much it means to them to have gotten out of togo or brazil or croxteth lol but when you watch mls in big stadiums its like the money is always there you can’t imagine the players, the home grown at least, to have lived the kind of lives most footballers have. before the MLS will be good it needs to find those roots that its never had.

  2. szazzy

    September 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

    When exactly are the end days coming for MLS TV ratings? Should it happen quickly with EPL and La Liga now on ESPN2? Sportsmediawatch even uses your numbers as a source – they just come up with a different conclusion.

    “Major League Soccer has seen “significant growth” on ESPN Deportes. MLS telecasts are averaging 45,000 households and 69,000 total viewers on ESPN Deportes, up 67% and 72%, respectively, from last year. (Source: ESPN)

    MLS topping EPL on ESPN2.

    Major League Soccer has proven to be a slightly bigger television attraction for ESPN2 than the English Premier League.

    Through four games, the English Premier League is averaging 298,000 viewers on ESPN2. Saturday’s EPL Chelsea/Burnley match drew a 0.2 U.S. rating and 254,000 viewers, down from a 0.3 and 375,000 viewers for Wigan/Manchester United the previous week.

    Meanwhile, Major League Soccer telecasts are averaging a 0.2 U.S. rating and 301,000 viewers on ESPN2, even with last year.

    Keep in mind that EPL telecasts air in the morning and afternoon, while Major League Soccer matches typically air in prime time.”

    I think the EPL games will outdraw MLS by the end of the season – I just don’t think there’s any factual basis to believe it’s a zero-sum game. There’s room for both the international and domestic game to flourish.

  3. Ewin Avila

    September 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    You know what I agree that top euro leagues will only help MLS become more popular and at the same time offer competition to the MLS causing it to make its product better. I watch the MLS when the playoffs are on , when there is nothing else to do or watch, when my hometown team is playing, or when my favorite teams is playing. I’m sure many viewers of the MLS share these reasons or even have more reasons to watch the MLS. To say that the MLS tv ratings are doomed is an opinion. You have good points too but i think the reasons posted by the many people saying the MLS will become better overall have better reasons to say that the Euro leagues will only help the MLS.

  4. Duke

    September 2, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I have to agree with those that think EPL and other European leagues will bring more fans to MLS, not away.

    I was never a fan of “football” until this Spring: Unemployed, lots of free time, with EPL replays and UEFA Champions League on Comcast in the early afternoons, I got a chance to see how good the game could be. (And yes, I’m now a Chelsea fan — they’re on about 80% of the EPL/UEFA matches available to me, what can I say?). Watching the Euro leagues gave me an appreciation for the game I never had before, and even got me to sit through MLS matches if nothing better was on.

    Yes, I realize that MLS is bad, bad, bad. Sometimes I actually find myself switching away, it’s just so awful. But now I’m a soccer fan. EPL, La Liga, UEFA, CONCACAF, I’m taking in all I can get. I’m even following the Chicago Fire with bated breath.

    And my 13-year-old son is watching it with me, and has made his school’s soccer team, and (most importantly) is discussing with me the various players he enjoys watching and would like to emulate. Do you realize how important to U.S. soccer that last part is? We’re not talking about batting like Jermaine Dye, or passing like Jay Cutler, or playing the 1 like Dwayne Wade; we’re talking about handling the ball like Cole or Messi, shutting out offenses the way Tim Howard did in South Africa.

    And that’s why I think the growing fan base for EPL and other Euro leagues is only going to make things better for MLS in the long run. If more kids grow up wanting to play soccer, there will be more talent available to MLS and USMNT. I also tend to think that once the fan base reaches a certain critical mass (and I’m not sure what that would be), that American soccer fans will begin demanding better play, and there will be enough people voting with their dollars to make it worthwhile for MLS clubs to spend more money. I think the Fire have a pretty good fan base, but I’ll probably find myself driving to Bridgeview with my son in the near future to see a match. That would never have happened without EPL.

    Bottom line, I would never have started watching MLS if I hadn’t become a fan of EPL. I can’t be the only one, can I?

    • eplnfl

      September 2, 2009 at 8:00 am


      The same story for me. Once I was able to get FSC on the cable system my interest in the EPL grew, my interest was further helped by the internet, and this site, and my interest in the Fire grew. I have myself been taking rides out to Bridgeview to see the Fire and dragging along my family. It’s all fun, except the one hour drive to Bridgeview. Also, getting to see the USMNT in Chicago is a thrill. So, one league does help the other.

      Hey, if you are in the Chicago area some other readers here have talked about getting together at a Pub to watch a game. If that interests you or anyone else in the Chicago area e-mail me and I will try to organize an event.

  5. Jleau

    September 1, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    It’s not either or and I believe both can benefit from the other. European soccer is the better product but that’s not the point. MLS ratings are bad because soccer is a niche sport that does not resonate with the average American sports fan. In fact, most sports fans in America would rather bash the sport than watch it.

    MLS needs soccer fans and anything that creates soccer fans is good for MLS. Just look at college basketball. The best players are in the NBA and more and more each year those players don’t come from college basketball. The popularity of the NCAA tourney and the sport as a whole has never been better. If average Americans (not ex-pats or recent immigrants)begin to care about soccer they will want to watch teams that they can relate to and play in a time zone most have them have actually lived in or visited.

    One should not over estimate the siren song of Blackburn vs. Wigan. MLS is sloppy, poorly officiated, and lacking in talent but honestly why would a Yank dvr that borefest instead of watching Houston vs. Seattle? I’m not suggesting that the Sounders could play in the premiership, it’s just that people tune into sports for drama and impact and unless it’s the last month of the season there are only 4-6 teams in the EPL that produce that.

    Germans still watch Bundesliga even though it’s not the best of the best, why would Americans be any different.

    As an American fan of soccer, I love the EPL but I enjoy and watch the MLS also. It’s our entry into the world game and that’s compelling.

    • Jay

      September 1, 2009 at 11:59 pm

      “The best players are in the NBA and more and more each year those players don’t come from college basketball.”

      -What? That certainly isn’t true…

  6. boringarsenal

    September 1, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I don’t understand all this hand-wringing with regards to MLS; it’s no secret to any supporter of football that the American brand is less competitive than the European model. It was the misfortune of the MLS to come into being just on the cusp of the internet and the expansion of TV viewer choices made available by the likes of FSC, GOLTV and Setanta Sports. The paradox is this; football/soccer is more popular than ever in the USA, but it’s loyalty belongs to England, and Europe at large. Put it another way, if I lived in Europe and was a fan of baseball, would I prefer to watch a local version of the game, or would I turn to and watch the American ‘top flight’?
    The globalization of sports has given football/soccer supporters a myriad of choices and given the world’s desire to follow the English leagues i.e., the Premier League and the Football League Championship, why should anyone bother with MLS?

  7. Adam Childress

    September 1, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Prior to Euro Cup 2008, i was a soccer bashing, typical, know nothing but think I know everything about the sport, American. Then I watched the tourney in order to kiss the aOO of my british boss. Two games in and I was hooked. I now have Setanta, FSC, and no longer have NFL or MLB season tickets. I live in Detroit thus I have no team other than a PDL team. I do follow the Seattle Sounders and to me they are fun to wach because they play a more attacking, skilled, euro type of football. I do pay for MLS Direct Kick but do not watch as often because after watching the EPL Saturday mornings, I get frustrated with the often errant passes and constant long ball launches, and lack of individule skill and creativity. I support MLS because its ours but until we field a majority of teams that play like Seattle, it will not capture the average American sports fan because MLS produces excitment far and few between. Thats my take on it but had it not been for euro football I would have never watched MLS…

    GAFFER: Call up the people in charge over at FSC and tell them they need better sets and better hosts to there sportscenter type shows….its hard to take FSC serious when it appears everything is done on the cheap…I am not saying go overboard like ESPN US does but the clean stream lined studio for the ESPN UK looks great!

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 8:57 pm

      It looks like ESPN UK are working out of the old Setanta UK studios hence the more impressive studio set. As for Fox, they’re owned by Rupert Murdoch who is well known for running his companies on a shoestring budget. I’m sure that the people at FSC would love to have a flashier set, but they may have to just work with what they have. That said, the set decoration looks like it’s improving year over year despite being in the same building.

      Adam, I’m glad you found soccer and that you’re now a rabid fan. It only gets better from here and just wait until next summer’s World Cup — which is truly the greatest spectacle (and to me, even greater than the Olympic Games).

      The Gaffer

  8. AtlantaPompey

    September 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    MLS has a long way to go to catch up to the European leagues. I think we can all agree on that. I, for one, will not watch MLS matches simply because Atlanta is not in the league, nor likely to be anytime soon. Since I have no rooting interest in any of the teams, I’m more likely to watch a league that is much higher quality.

    The day Atlanta joins the MLS is the day I purchase season tickets and a jersey and get involved. Until then, it provides almost no interest for me.

    • eplnfl

      September 1, 2009 at 7:24 pm

      AP, you confirmed what I said elsewhere, MLS has a problem in that it needs to attract fans like yourself and can and will only do so when it puts a team in your market and a lot more towns like Atlanta.

      I do understand the fan fatigue issue from a fan’s point of view but even though I am up to watch the game early Saturday morning from the EPL, I am still eager to watch my home town team the Fire in the evening. Saturday is soccer day! Given the early start times from England it fits nice into my Midwestern US day. Watching other leagues starting in the afternoon is a problem when you really find it hard to be glued to your TV.

  9. Thomas

    September 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I’d like MLS to succeed as well. But the article points to most fans view point, why watch MLS when I get more EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Argentine Clausura, Brasilian League than I even have time to digest.

    There’s a huge gap in quality. MLS has gotten better. It’s much more watchable than it was even 5 years ago. But it’s still not up there with the top leagues.

    I go to Earthquakes and Timbers (still USL) games occationally. It’s thebest we have. Timbers games are extremely enjoyable. But I’d much rather watch the best.

    Most of my friends I grew up playing with all follow European leagues/teams. MLS is a joke to many of them. And the only reason many of them even give the MLS any consideration is because our High School has sent 3 players to MLS.

    You think Canadian football (american) are more interested in the CFL or NFL?

    Just look at the turn out you had between the top clubs this summer. Americans are into soccer. No doubt about it. When you get 90,000+ to the Rose Bowl, yet hte Galaxy are drawing 20,000…then you see the disparity.

  10. Ford Prefect

    September 1, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    You’ve killed their Sacred Cow, and the MLS fans will rain Hellfire and Damnation down on you for pointing out what should be obvious to them–As the casual American fan becomes acquainted w/ the game, they’ll see the Euro game and wonder why the MLS product is so poor–If recognizing the HUGE difference between European Football and American Soccer and choosing to follow the better product makes me a Euro Snob then I wear the name proudly

    • Ford Prefect

      September 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

      Oops–Sorry for the double post, but forgot to say–Great Article

    • szazzy

      September 2, 2009 at 5:37 am

      That’s the thing. You act like you’re a more knowledgeable fan because you only watch foreign teams. WE CAN ALL SEE THE DIFFERENCE. Some people choose to watch MLS regardless. You don’t see college sports losing fans even in the face of far superior professional leagues. Get over yourself.

  11. man99utd

    September 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Would it be possible to get FSC’s EPL ratings going forward? It would interesting to see if ESPN’s coverage translates into increased FSC subscriptions/viewers.

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm

      I’ve asked for the information but have not received it as of yet. When I do get it, I’ll definitely post it. Thanks man99utd.

      The Gaffer

  12. Sam E P

    September 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    This is certainly hot debated topic – and I’m not in a position to comment on ratings. However, there are a couple of points I’d like to make. MLS seriously lacks the grass roots foundations the EPL and most European Leagues have. Local teams make for lifelong fans, and all four of the EPL’s tiered leagues receive live TV coverage in the UK, in addition this we have 2 cup competitions which see you local minnows draw against the EPL’s cream to give you a dream match one in a while. The MLS needs investment in lower leagues to give fans a local team.
    It’s also interesting that with the creation of ESPN UK; MLS is being piped into UK households on a regular basis for the first time. It will be interesting to see if it gets enough viewers for ESPN to pay the satelite transmission costs for the live feed for more than the initial run of games.
    And to see how the UK reacts to John Harkes, Rob Stone and Alexi Lalas commentating….

  13. szazzy

    September 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Gaffer, when you’re putting together your numbers on why MLS tv ratings will plummet, please address continuing expansion into Portland and Philadelphia in terms of US tv ratings.

  14. man99utd

    September 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Gaffer, any word on the ratings for Chelsea v Burnley?

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

      Check back tonight. I should have the numbers posted on the site by then.

      The Gaffer

  15. CB

    September 1, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I think this is an interesting topic. I can see where the EPL and other contests on ESPN could syphon the audience from the MLS telecasts – but not because of burnout. I think a more likely scenario is one touched on by the Gaffer about recording and “time shifting” matches. On a Saturday where there are four or five (or more) matches to choose from, I’ll typically choose one to record to watch later that evening. The match I record will typically be the one that, in my opinion, will be the best of the day. If my team (Blackburn) is on, then I’ll record them. So, for me, it’s a case of having a limited amount of viewing time which forces me to narrow my selection.

    More people watching soccer in America could help the MLS – but only if the MLS is prepared with a strategy to expand their audience. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen happen time and again is a league ill-equipped to meet opportunity. This has resulted in a plethora of missed opportunities. Having worked for a MLS team for nearly 10 years (I don’t work in the game anymore), I’ve seen a league frozen by the possibility of success.

    Not to say the MLS can’t be successful… They deserve a ton of credit for surviving this long, especially in the current economic climate. But I just think it’s a shame that when foreign leagues are making inroads in the US sporting landscape, a domestic league that has been around for 15 years isn’t doing the same thing.

  16. szazzy

    September 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    And in the article where you make a prediction so bold, it’s your job as the author to put those numbers together and present an argument. You’re just projecting your feelings on to everyone else and saying that’s how it is. How are we “programmed” to watch soccer only in the morning?

  17. szazzy

    September 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    “The MLS TV ratings have been going down, while the Premier League TV ratings have been increasing.”

    So lets see you present the numbers and back it up in this piece instead of just hoping we’ll take your word for it. Also, you’re going to need to show at least some kind of proof that EPL games are drawing directly from MLS and that it’s not just the high end “Beckham just got here” numbers falling off.

  18. Aaron

    September 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t see how people can maintain that the growing interest in EPL and other Euro leagues won’t diminish interest in the MLS. I would love to see the MLS grow in stature in this country. I pray for it. I live in a market with not one, but two MLS teams. However, with more European games to watch on television (and particularly in HD on ESPN2), I find myself catching up on MLS games (or even checking scores) much less frequently. I’m far too interested in what’s happening with the best teams abroad — which nowadays feels closer than ever.

    And forget the Gaffer’s burnout theory. The real problem is disparity in talent (most people have made this comment already). Watching any MLS game a few short hours after catching Chelsea v. Burnley in HD only highlights how miserably slow and technically deficient the MLS game is. Teams can rarely hold the ball, attacks are poorly paced and usually result in a horribly ill-conceived pass, and the long-ball is too heavily relied on. Frankly, the MLS can be painful to watch.

    So while the MLS is mired in low salaries, second-rate players, and its inexplicable promotion of “wold class” players like Landon Donovan, I think I’ll stick to the world game. At least until MLS stops treating local fans like idiots and starts competing for the best talent.

  19. krafownzrevs

    September 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I conceed that the EPL is a better standard than MLS. But, being American, I’ll watch EPL if there is no MLS on. Ha ha ha. There, I said it. I like MLS. It’s my league, so I’ll prefer it to a better league that I have no emotional attachment to. If you Eurosnobs don’t like MLS, fine. We have our own fanbase and it’s growing. See-ya-lata. Actually, see you in 20 years when the balance tips our way and the full might of American wealth and sponsorship is with MLS. Can’t wait!!!!

  20. Fan

    September 1, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Yes because soccer from Europe has never been on television anywhere before. This new discovery will surprise and shock people into never watching MLS again.

    Seriously, dude, we get it. You like Europe more than MLS. No big deal. Intelligent people know that the standard of MLS is not up to those leagues, but that doesn’t mean people will abandon the league in droves. Soccer fans have had access to these leagues for some time now. Just because they are on ESPN really won’t change the equation much. The 255,000 people watching MLS each week are not idiots who don’t see the soccer world around them. You just want to make it seem like they are and you are showing them the light.

  21. winstongator

    September 1, 2009 at 11:01 am

    As someone whose soccer watching was limited to World Cups pre 2007, having FSC available and the games on ESPN has mde me more likely to watch MLS games. Euro2008 coverage increased my likelyhood to watch MLS too.

    MLS is a lower tier minor league in world soccer, with a few big names sprinkled in. It will take a lot of $ to get closer to EPL/La Liga/Serie A, or even closer to the second tier European leagues (Bundesliga, Ligue 1).

    The big leagues generate interest in soccer and cement fans. Who would watch minor league baseball games on TV? Mostly die-hard fans of MLB teams. Your EPL viewer on ESPN is going to be much more likely to watch MLS games than a viewer of the bass pro shops show whose spot they took.

  22. dstorm

    September 1, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Gaffer, isn’t it also true that more exposure to top flight football (ie EPL and La Liga) will introduce more Americans to the sport? I was always a casual fan (World Cups, National Team) – but one summer watched a few replays of EPL games on FSC. I became hooked – couldn’t believe how fast they played the game and how exciting it was to watch.

    This led to my overall increased interest in the sport and a desire to follow the domestic league – I still would rather watch an EPL or La Liga match than MLS, but I will tune in from time to time to watch MLS. I also now attend games in my local city. But before being introduced to the sport at the top level through FSC it wasn’t even on my radar screen.

    I don’t think these product compete directly — and in fact I think over time success of football on ESPN (EPL and La Liga) could help MLS in the long run, including television ratings if they could improve the product on the field. In my view, the more people that get introduced to soccer through main-stream media, the better – and the long term impact will be positive on MLS.

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 10:54 am

      Dstorm, I agree that some people who may be attracted to soccer by watching the EPL or La Liga on ESPN will gravitate to MLS — especially in their local markets where they have a team to support. But I don’t think the EPL and La Liga are going to help MLS TV ratings at all.

      There’s only so much time in a day and if soccer fans have to choose between watching the EPL and La Liga on ESPN versus MLS, I believe the majority of them will watch Euro football — as the TV ratings have shown already.

      The Gaffer

      • winstongator

        September 1, 2009 at 11:07 am

        EPL & La Liga games are not perfect substitutes for MLS games. The choice is between an NBA or MLB game, or even some crappy reality show or MLS. Having someone watch EPL or La Liga will make them more likely to choose MLS over DWTS.

        Do you remember the stuff ESPN used to show in the 80’s, and still shows? Tractor pulls, darts, TONS of poker. ESPN pretty much created the market for poker on TV and expanded coverage of the top world soccer leagues will only increase overall soccer’s TV demand.


    September 1, 2009 at 10:47 am

    well i am glad this topic came up on this site….
    On a big scale……..why is that die-hard footie fun associate ourselves more with European football more than the MLS. its Simple………..because the MLS is a joke. when MLS opens up the league to attract top dollar foreign players,where creativity, talent, vision and purpose is that is the league than we will “love to watch it” attracting top players is based on demand and supply…hence money.
    i live for the day when i can subscribe to all the top European leagues on a package either on satellite or on cable. that will cover 95% of what i watch on TV. the other 5% is fill with News & other programs

    • Jason

      September 1, 2009 at 2:48 pm

      MLS is a joke? The league has survived almost as long as the NASL, which last I checked is no longer in existence thanks to “opening up the league to attract top-dollar foreign players,” spending money it didn’t have.

      You Eurosnobs will always find a reason not to watch MLS. The league could have 11 Messis on every team, and you guys would turn up your nose because of something like, “it has ‘soccer’ in the name. What a joke of a league.”

  24. Jimmy Smith

    September 1, 2009 at 10:41 am

    MLS ratings wont change, the people that watch MLS now, will always willl, the hardcore fans, why would i cheer on teams across the pond when i can cheer for D.C. United that is two hours away, i know EPL is better quality but id rather watch teams from my own country.

  25. szazzy

    September 1, 2009 at 10:23 am

    “What are your thoughts about this? ”

    You’re an idiot. Very very few Eurosnobs and out-of-market people were watching MLS before. There’s no proof that existing fans are abandoning MLS in favor of soccer that was already available to them. Did you just realize there was higher quality soccer available early in the morning? MLS was always smaller than the EPL, and will continue to be. That doesn’t mean it’s DOOMED as your first sentence says. I’m done with this site until I start to see a little more journalism and less hyperbolic opinion.

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 10:39 am

      Szazzy, MLS TV ratings were not always smaller than the EPL. The MLS TV ratings have been going down, while the Premier League TV ratings have been increasing.

      I’m not saying that the league is doomed. I’m just saying that their TV ratings are doomed because how can they win against Euro football when not only is it better quality but soccer fans in the US have been programmed to watch games earlier in the day.

      The Gaffer

  26. tyduffy

    September 1, 2009 at 10:00 am


    I don’t think it helps MLS to have EPL and La Liga on major networks. But, I don’t think it hurts it either.

    MLS ratings were terrible before this, and there’s no evidence to suggest it has made them worse. Even if it does adversely affect ratings, I think it will be from American fans realizing just how bad MLS is by comparison rather than being burned out at night.

    The real issue, as it has been with MLS for a while, is improving the product. Perhaps, ESPN investing in foreign leagues will spur MLS to spend more money to make that happen.

  27. Ian B

    September 1, 2009 at 9:46 am

    A good article. As a British bloke, who used to live in the US, I can see that MLS viewing figures will be hurt by more European football on the tele. But thats a harsh reality I’m afraid – football fans want to watch the best, and so they watch Serie A, La Liga, Premiership. Its not that different in England, where fewer and fewer kids grow up supporting their local lower league or non league team – they all grow up wanting to watch Chelsea or Man U. Hence, very few of them go to watch Histon, or Barrow, or York – they stay at home and watch Arsenal on the TV.

    Those supporters who value their local/hometown team above all else (in the US and the UK) will find time for both them and the big European matches, but many fans of the sport only know about the best of the best; the big clubs. I’m amazed by the amount of US fans I meet who support a ‘big four’ club. It seems to me that a US fan who supports a lower league team, or at least a mid table unfashionable premier league team, is getting rarer and rarer – but the trend is the same in England sadly.

    • AtlantaPompey

      September 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

      Americans, like me, who have the luxury of ‘adopting’ a club tend to adopt a big four club for lots of reasons: easy to find other supporters, more likely to be on television, more likely to win trophies. I adopted Pompey because of the similarities between Portsmouth and my hometown of Columbus, Georgia: similar population, blue-collar town, military town (Army & Navy). I was also attracted to the supporters who sang The Chimes. While I will watch other clubs play, especially if it’s a big four matchup, my weekend revolves around being able to watch Pompey play.

  28. man99utd

    September 1, 2009 at 9:42 am

    ESPN has proven it can draw an audience and that there is a market for the EPL and La Liga, no matter what time of day. The only chance MLS has is to up it’s game, pardon the pun. It must have a structure more in line with the rest of the world. Americans will watch the MLS if it’s a quality product. Additionally, FOX, i.e., Murdoch, News Corp. could solve the problems of FSC by simply injecting some cash and releasing it from it’s monthly sport package subscription format. Thus putting on par with ESPN. If FSC and MLS doesn’t do something soon, ESPN will outbid them and finish them off good and proper.

  29. Martin M.

    September 1, 2009 at 9:24 am

    The “talk” family of networks does nothing but consistently insult American fans. Gaffer talks about needing Brit commentators for every game and about the growth of the European game in the US.

    Gaffer’s collegue Kartik Krishnaiyer is so disreputable that he actually makes up TV ratings to make MLS look bad versus European Leagues and Mexico, changes the dates of when stadiums were built to make USL look good (he recently claimed some USL stadium was older than Crew stadium, but it is an accepted fact in American soccer that Crew Stadium was the first soccer stadium in the USA) and constantly refers to soccer as football in his posts even about MLS, USL or the US National Team.

    Now this post. MLS is already more popular than any Euro league. It’s on in primetime not crazy hours of the morning, and has real local followings. I can go to games live and talk to my friends about it.

    The only place MLS is losing to Euro Leagues is if you believe the false numbers printed on your sister site to insult MLS. ESPN has more homes than FSC or GOL TV, and primetime always has more viewers than the early AM.

    It’s too logical for the talk network. MLS > EPL

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 9:34 am

      Martin, I obviously disagree. MLS Talk has been very supportive of US soccer — giving the country a ton of coverage of MLS, USL, WPS, USMNT and more. Just because it does so with a critical eye doesn’t mean we’re not supportive of soccer in this country.

      The fact of the matter is that the Premier League games on ESPN2 are achieving better TV ratings than MLS games that are in primetime. Sorry, but it sounds like you’re in denial Martin.

      The Gaffer

    • Eddie

      September 1, 2009 at 9:38 am

      Is this a serious post? It’s a joke, right?

      I’m a season ticketholder for an MLS club, and I want the league to succeed. But I want to watch quality soccer (or football … I don’t get all worked up over the semantics, it’s the same damn game).

      There is no way I’m going to watch Kansas City play the Revolution, for example, unless I am completely bored and feel that TV is my only option at the time. When MLS gets serious about its product, starts paying players a decent wage, and starts recruiting good players, rather than washed-up former “stars” and South Americans who couldn’t make it in their domestic league, then I’ll watch more matches.

      I like baseball, too, but I don’t tune into minor league ball.

    • Kartik

      September 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

      From the Blackbaud Stadium website:

      Completed in April 1999, Blackbaud Stadium became the first privately-funded soccer-specific stadium in the United States. Styled after the classic English soccer experience, the stadium seats 5,100 and offers fans an unmatched environment with superb sight-lines, concessions, a children’s interactive soccer theme park, and even a plush English-styled pub, The Three Lions.

      TV Ratings from the Sports Business Journal ten years apart:

      Ertmann believes Soccer Saturdays and the improved scheduling continuity will yield higher ratings. For the 1999 season, MLS posted a 0.83 average on ABC for five games, vs. a 0.88 in 1998 over a dozen contests. On ESPN, ratings slipped to a 0.33 average last year from a 0.45

      The league’s mixed results at the gate were mirrored in its performance on TV. MLS games on ESPN2 averaged a 0.2 cable rating for the third consecutive year, but total average viewers per game fell to 253,000 — down from 289,000 viewers in 2007 and 263,000 in 2006.

      It is alright to disagree with my opinion on these matters. But to claim I make up facts and statistics to back up my point of view is not acceptable discourse even on an anything goes forum like this.

      As far as the terminology of the sport, I prefer football which is the globally accepted term for the sport, even among many here in the USA.

      When writing, I think football. Referring to the sport as Soccer is like a Spanish language writer trying to write a piece in English while thinking in Spanish. It will not always come out well.

      • The Gaffer

        September 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm

        Don’t let Paul Gardner hear you say that Kartik! 😉

        The Gaffer

  30. eplnfl

    September 1, 2009 at 8:23 am

    MLS must upgrade to compete with the better TV fare. Yet, if they do they will `flourish. Maybe it’s putting the cart before the horse but increased TV money if it is spent on quality players will gain the attention of American sports fans. Our recent Summer of Soccer has shown that. So, if ESPN wanted to invest in American Soccer then it will reap an award. We should mention that other networks maybe become a player. NBC went out of it’s way to hold on to English language rights to the recent US/Mexico game and it’s no leap to think Fox maybe interested.

    So, upgrades are necessary and I am myself burned out by the evening game times for MLS on a Saturday but by March why watch a relegation derby when the SuperClassico may have some big names on the pitch.

  31. Johnny

    September 1, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Well if the “burnout theory” is true, try the ESPN2 MLS Game of the Week during weeknights – I’m sure the EPL doesn”t have any matches Friday morning at 2am, do they? 🙂

    Not that it matters anyway, since the people with the Nielsen boxes are all the matters, and there’s something very off about who receives those boxes.. so I guess that message is to them isn’t it!

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 9:16 am

      More people are watching the 7:45am Premier League game than the MLS Game of the Week Johnny.

      The Gaffer

  32. Adam Childress

    September 1, 2009 at 8:00 am

    are you going to post espn epl ratings each week? I would love to see the trends throughout the year.

    • The Gaffer

      September 1, 2009 at 9:16 am

      Adam, I’m planning on it. Stay tuned! 🙂

      The Gaffer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »