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ESPN2’s Nielsen Ratings For EPL Games: Aug 15-Sept 19, 2009


After just one month of the 2009-2010 Premier League season, ESPN2 has generated an average viewing audience of 274,128 according to Nielsen Ratings.

The ratings are impressive thus far given the fact that no two heavyweight teams have faced each other on ESPN2 as of yet. The first massive match-up to be aired on ESPN2 will be the October 31st clash between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The other key component is timing. A game on a Monday afternoon before the NFL season kicks off is going to generate more viewers than an early Saturday morning kick-off.

That said, here are the TV ratings for Premier League games aired on ESPN2 from August 15 to September 19, 2009:

  1. Liverpool v Aston Villa, Mon., Aug. 24, 3 pm, 398,391 viewers
  2. Wigan v Man United, Sat., Aug. 22, 10 am, 374,799
  3. Chelsea v Burnley, Sat., Aug. 29, 7:45 am, 253,934
  4. Liverpool v Burnley, Sat., Sept. 12, 10 am, 253,779
  5. Burnley v Sunderland, Sat., Sept. 19, 7:45 am, 199,380
  6. Chelsea v Hull City, Sat., Aug. 15, 7:45 am, 164,485

In comparison, the highest TV ratings published for Fox Soccer Channel for a Premier League match was 230,000 in February, 2009 for Liverpool against Chelsea.

What are your impressions of the TV ratings thus far? How high do you think they’ll get this season, and how do you think this Saturday’s ESPN2 clash between Everton and Portsmouth will do? Click the comments link below and share your feedback.

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  1. angelo

    October 12, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    someone should report on serie a tv ratings. they do fairly well on fsc.(palermo vs juventus replay did about 90,000 viewers) although most italians in the usa watch the games on rai international. considering that rai has about 3 million subscribers, i’m willing to bet that half those tv sets are tuned in to the serie a on sunday morning. you guys do the math. considering that a club like Napoli have more fans in the usa than the bottom 16 teams in the epl it would be an interesting comparrison. by the way, why compare juve v palermo? how about inter v milan.

    • The Gaffer

      October 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm

      Angelo, we should be getting Serie A ratings in a few weeks and will publish those on our sister site,

      The last time I checked, many of the Italian games were getting 60k to 90k viewers on the games shown on Fox.

      The Gaffer

  2. Lyle

    September 24, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Hulu is showing EPL highlights now. Maybe they have been, but I’ve missed it.

  3. jleau

    September 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    No real surprises. ESPN is in more homes and is going to have a higher number reflective of that. It looks like the niche crowd that likes soccer will tune in.

    Shockingly, games featuring small clubs from places we’ve never heard of before draw a lot less.

    I don’t see any evidence that there is some sort of huge ESPN bump other than the availability in more homes.

    I completely agree with Duke, what ESPN thinks is an interesting question. Can the audience grow?? Not much with games being shown at 4:45 out here on the west coast.

  4. forweg

    September 23, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Yeah, I agree with you guys, only the Big Four should be allowed to play on TV. Watching billionaire clubs beat up on “lesser” clubs 4-0 every week is definitely the way to go. After all, knowing who will win before the match begins is so much more enjoyable than a close, competitive game.

    • Duke

      September 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

      My point is *not* that only the Big Four should be broadcast. My point is that higher profile teams at the top of the standings are going to draw more interest (See: Late-season “flex” scheduling for Sunday Night Football on NBC), and ESPN should make a move to get some of these matches, especially if they’re broadcast at more reasonable times.

      Like it or not, late-season rebroadcasts of Big 4 matches on Comcast Sportsnet, along with UEFA Champions League, is what got me interested in sitting down to watch soccer. If you want to woo viewers, you’re going to need to show them the best of the best, at least occasionally.

  5. Duke

    September 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    More important than our impressions of the ratings: What are ESPN’s impressions of the ratings? That’s the big question in my mind. If they’re happy and think it might be worthwhile to expand their EPL coverage, then my impression is, “FANTASTIC!!!!!”

    On the other hand, if they think the EPL is too much of a “niche” sport and they’d be better served airing something else, of course I’d be pretty bummed.

    Let’s face it: The only people who are going to get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to watch Burnley are the hard-core fans who come here. If the audience is going to grow in the States, there are going to have to be bigger name matches at more accessible times. ESPN is going to have to see something that makes them think that’s a good investment, aren’t they?

  6. winstongator

    September 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Burnley – already 3 spots.
    Other matchups espn already has tagged for hd:
    villa – chelsea
    Arsenal – spurs halloween
    l’pool – city

    With all the college football espn carries, it will be hard to go past noon on a saturday with anything but that.

  7. Fletch

    September 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I think these ratings are good. FSC is a “premium” channel and the average viewing on ESPN2 (basic cable/satellite channel) seems to be the same or better. Of course people aren’t going to watch Burnley and Hull the way they are going to watch Man U and Chelsea–and that’s going to hold true on any channel. I think the 7:45 time slot on a Saturday morning isn’t too risky for them and so this is a win-win for ESPN. Yes, FSC and Setanta may have better games on certain weekends but ESPN can say they were the first to offer HD EPL games–that has to count for something!

    I personally am addicted to HD so I am going to watch the HD content, or at least DVR it, so ESPN has gotten my business. I’m thinking the $15 I pay Setanta every month is becoming less and less worth it, although I wouldn’t dream of canceling it either!

    The reality is that ESPN is THE place for sports in America. The fact that they are committing to this kind of exposure for the EPL in the US is a very good thing–and in HD no less! This takes the EPL and La Liga off subscription channels and onto the average guy’s cable lineup. I have a bunch of friends who are up early with their little kids on Saturday morning and tune in to ESPN just to have sports in the background. They love the soccer as opposed to the hunting or whatever was on before. I imagine that’s happening all over the US .

    Think about the fact that just a few years ago the MLS wasn’t on TV much at all. Now we have every World Cup 2006 match, every Euro 2008 match, and even Chris Fowler is headed to South Africa next summer to provided a new level of coverage. And now we have HD EPL and La Liga. It can only get better!

  8. leafsfan1967

    September 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I’m grateful ESPN has begun showing games and I think their ratings will improve given time. For those of us who can’t afford to add Setanta of FSC ESPN has done us a real favour…

  9. CA_backpacker

    September 23, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Not surprising ratings…with many of the smaller clubs, most Americans are going to say “who are they?” and tune out and go mow the lawn. But I gotta say, it is really nice to be able to watch at least one game a week in HD. @Gaffer, didn’t you mention that you heard that FSC was going HD on DirecTV in January, or something like that? Can you clarify? When FSC & Setanta are both in HD, I will have died and gone to heaven…

    • The Gaffer

      September 23, 2009 at 11:22 am

      CA, Fox Soccer Channel will be in HD in January — at least for some of the Premier League games. As for Setanta, it’s looking like it may be later in 2010. Too hard to say right now.

      The Gaffer

      • Attaturk

        September 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

        FSC may be sending an HD signal in January, but unlike ESPN2 it will be some time before that HD signal is widely available — I’m assuming they’ll have even less clout with the Cable Companys than BBC America.

        On the other hand ESPN2-HD is available on virtually all cable systems in addition to the 2 satellite companies.

        • CA_backpacker

          September 23, 2009 at 11:47 am

          Thanks guys. Guess I’ll have to nag DirecTV daily in January. I mean seriously, they have so many lame channels taking HD bandwidth, FSC should be automatic!

  10. Tim

    September 23, 2009 at 11:08 am

    This game Liverpool v Man City is an early (7:45am) kick off on Nov 21st, the ratings for this would be interesting. As, this looks like a fairly high profile game. I think there are less high profile games in the early slot as in the UK ESPN has the later game (on Saturdays) and has been given a few high profile games.

  11. AmplifiedtoRock

    September 23, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Let us not forget that ESPN 2 doesn’t get to choose what matches are scheduled for the early kick-off. As I understand it, the only time they have an option is when there is not an early kick-off. They then have first choice of those matches. Eventually we’ll see ESPN 2 get a crack at a top of the table clash, and when we do…then we can make a judgment.

  12. Sam

    September 23, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Impossible to make any sort of judgment without seeing the ratings of shows that previously held that time slot.

  13. The Gaffer

    September 23, 2009 at 9:46 am

    It’s interesting to note this season how the Saturday 7:45am ET kickoffs feature less attractive match-ups, while Saturday 12:30pm ET matches these season have been a lot more meaty than in seasons past. It’s Fox’s gain and ESPN2’s loss. But it’s a good way for ESPN to dip their toe in the water to see what the interest is among soccer fans in this country.

    Don’t forget that ESPN will feature the Monday games, which include Man City v West Ham (this Monday), Aston Villa v Man City (October 5), Fulhamerica v Hull (October 19) and Liverpool v Birmingham (November 9).

    The Gaffer

  14. ovalball

    September 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Seems like we’ve burned out.

    I know. That was horrible. I apologize, but the point’s the same. Burnley against one of the big boys? Good rating. Against a mid-table foe? Not so hot. Do we or ESPN even want to think about Hull v Portsmouth? :O

    Of course these ratings shouldn’t surprise anyone. It happens in all sports. Big teams/big cities draw higher ratings. HD can only hold you so long.

  15. CFTV

    September 23, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Don’t be shocked if ESPN 2 does go after a 10am game next season with the 1st or 2nd live choice in that timeslot so it almost guarantees that they show 1 of the big 4 each weekend more weeks than not. Also it wouldn’t shock me if they went after one of the Sunday Morning games too.

    Any word on La Liga ratings as well. Also does Deportes purchase the Ratings information from Nielsen so we can see how those games on Deportes do especially games featuring Real Madrid and Barca?

  16. jmbella249

    September 23, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Better quality matchups will lead to higher ratings. It is definitely more enjoyable to watch the games on ESPN2 because of the HD feed. The FSC and GOLTV channels have poor quality SD feeds. You really have to be a fan to sit through a game.

  17. man99utd

    September 23, 2009 at 7:17 am

    To me it seems a bit of downward trend. It also appears to be linked to time and quality. Most people (read neutrals) are not going to continue to get up early for the likes of Burnely v. anybody. I realise this is ESPN’s first season and they got what they got. But if this is going to work over the long term they will have to secure quality fixtures or we’re back to FSC and GOLTV only.

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