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Analysis of ESPN2's EPL TV Viewing Figures, 2009-10

Editor’s note: As a follow-up to the recent article about ESPN2’s number of viewers for Premier League games it has shown so far this season, I asked EPL Talk readers if anyone would be interested in analyzing the data more closely. New York City resident LD Montejo responded to the call and has produced these very eyeopening observations and charts below. Soccernomics, eat your heart out!

Notes: For the charts, click on any of them for a larger version of the image.

Here are the observations and insight into ESPN2’s Premier League TV ratings for the season thus far:

Comparing ratings between different Day/Time broadcasts:

It is pretty clear the broadcast at 10:00 AM on Saturdays has performed better overall. The early morning broadcasts on Saturday (7:30 AM) have seen a constant increase in ratings over the past 2 months (up from about 200k to 350k).  In general, rating for Monday afternoon broadcasts have steadily declined from its initial rating (from about 400k to about 140k). The only broadcast on Saturday at 8:45 did relatively well (about 325k).

The general trends suggest that the 7:30 AM broadcast on Saturday morning is becoming increasingly popular and should become the most highly rated broadcast of EPL on ESPN2.

Comparing ratings between teams in the top 4 and those outside the top 4:

So far there have been 16 broadcasts where at least one of the teams is one of the traditional top 4, and 14 broadcasts where both teams are outside the same top 4. Matches featuring top 4 teams have done only slightly better on average (average=283k) than matches of teams outside the top 4 (average=240k). However, the variation in rating is much larger among matches featuring top 4 teams (standard deviation = 71k) than among matches not featuring a top 4 team (standard deviation = 53k). In fact, performing an ANOVA statistical test on the data shows that the ratings between these two type of broadcasts are not statistically significant, which is unexpected.

Rating when a high profile American is playing:

The average rating from matches featuring a high profile American (i.e. Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, etc.) is 266k, whereas the rating for those matches without at least one high profile American is 261k. Based on statistical test we can safely say there is not a correlation between rating and the presence of at least one high profile American.

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  1. Derrick

    March 8, 2010 at 2:35 am

    I think an american doesn’t hurt but only Donovan and Dempsey. I don’t think Hull is a real draw especically when jozy wasn’t there. plus chelsea hull was the first game. my chelsea fan friends had zero clue the game was even on.

    But i think it’s clear, Manchester united is a draw. Match ups matter. The good matchups with major derbies or major teams are a draw. i think dempsey and fulham against a good team is a draw. I think hull is so bad it barely matter who they play short of Man u. I think you can ignore american goalkeepers cause goal keepers are not a draw.

    i think the time of the game is less important and kinda a waste to put too much emphasis on. You put liverpool Manchester united on at any time and it will draw people and dvr recordings. You put Hull vs. Blackburn and nobody is gonna watch.

  2. Brian

    March 4, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    It is so difficult to watch EPL games on the west coast-most of the televised ESPN2 games started at 4:30AM, which was ridiculous. We saw very few games at 7:00AM. The 7:00AM games were quite reasonable. I was disappointed with effort of ESPN2 here on the west coast….they do not appear to be interested in promoting soccer here in the US-at least for 1/2 of the country!

    • sucka99

      March 5, 2010 at 1:35 am

      Agreed. ESPN should force the Premier League to show the game at 8pm on Saturday so it will make a noon time showing on the west coast. Also who needs higher rating college basketball?

    • Terry

      March 5, 2010 at 10:37 am

      I’m not sure what more you want ESPN to do. They bought the only option FSC was willing to sublicense. Are you asking for a tape delayed broadcast? ESPN doesn’t treat sports like NBC (olympics), so that’s not going to happen.

      Buy a DVR.

    • Derrick

      March 8, 2010 at 2:27 am

      that’s just foolish. Buy a Tivo. I live on the West Coast and gone out all night partying and i’ve gotten up and went to the pub for 4:30 games. ESPN is doing fine. They barely make money off of these games if they do. What can they do? Force the Prem to change the game times.? foolish. And they have money make programming already like college football and basketball to fill those slots. Be happy with what we’re getting and wake up or buy a dvr and watch the game when you wake up. Hell i woke up this morning at 10AM and watched the everton Hull. No problem.

  3. Tom

    March 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Another error here is that you include Liverpool as a Top 4 team.

  4. sucka99

    March 4, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Interesting – this shows that the ratings between the EPL on FSC and ESPN aren’t as far apart as previously believed. Most EPL fans that want access have access.

  5. Sam

    March 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    This data is only compelling if we know what ESPN’s ratings were for shows prior to EPL coming to those timeslots. Until then…

    • sucka99

      March 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      or more importantly, the breakdown by different demo groups – AFAIK the fishing/hunting shows rate more, but probably have a bunch of old people watching – ha!

  6. CTBlues

    March 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    The Chelsea vs Hull match didn’t have any big name Americans in it. Jozy Altidore didn’t make an appearence for Hull until the Bolton game the following week.

    • sucka99

      March 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      people may have thought he would tho

  7. winstongator

    March 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Instead of big4 vs. non big4, you should sum the current or last year’s table position, so a Villa-Fulham match would be 16 while Chelsea-Burnley would be 20. It should be obvious which match would be tighter.

  8. Terry

    March 4, 2010 at 11:32 am

    An obvious error spotted from the day-time v. rating plot. 🙂 Two games are listed as 12/12/2009 for Saturday 7:45am. This is a data entry error since it is in the previous post ranking ratings:

    11: Portsmouth v Liverpool: 12/12/2009: Saturday 7:45am: 276160
    26: Stoke City v Wigan: 12/12/2009: Saturday 7:45am: 202000

    I checked the Barclay’s EPL results page. The Stoke-Wigan match did indeed occur on 12/12/2009. The Portsmouth-Liverpool match occured on 12/19/2009.

    Another curiousity of these numbers is that 1/3 of the ratings end in 00 and 8 of those end in 000. Statistically, 0 should occur more often, but not that much more often. I have no idea how Nielsen calculates ratings but clearly there is rounding in some instances. It looks like initial and secondary rounded off “estimates” mixed with the true tally? This would naturally skew the variance Montejo computed, but likely very little. Still I hate bad data.

    • The Gaffer

      March 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

      Good catch on the dates Terry. That was probably a typo by me.

      The Gaffer

  9. Eladio

    March 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Statistics are like a bikini: They reveal a lot, but what they don’t show is usually more interesting.

    And when it comes to ESPN2, it’s obvious they don’t show Arsenal enough. One game so far this year? No wonder their ratings aren’t so great.

  10. Eddie

    March 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Well done, LD.

    Though it’s guys like you that mean I have to sit through countless meetings at work going over web analytics.

  11. ovalball

    March 4, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Who needs Soccernomics. We have LD Montejo!


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