Despite recording the lowest-ever overnight rating in the league’s 20-year history, the final viewing number for the 2015 MLS Cup wasn’t as bad as some first feared. A total of 668,000 people watched the game on ESPN, while 206,000 viewed the game on Univision Deportes for a grand total of 874,000 people.
As of press time, the viewing numbers for UniMas have not yet been released.
In the first year of MLS’ mega TV deal with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision, the 2015 MLS Cup saw a 30% decline compared to the 964,000 who tuned in last year to watch Landon Donovan’s farewell game in the LA Galaxy vs. New England final.
Overall, though, the 874,000 total viewing figure on TV is unsurprising given that MLS’ season finale always goes up against either college football or the National Football League. There are rumors of future MLS Cup finals being shown on a mid-week night, which will help slightly but a reconfigured MLS calendar to play a final in late summer would be far more beneficial to the league for real TV growth.
For the 2015 MLS regular season, Univision had an average viewing audience of 224,000 for MLS games, while the average was 244,970 on ESPN and 196,545 on FOX Sports.
Here are the English-language MLS Cup viewing figures for the last 7 years:
How does the 2015 MLS Cup rating compare to previous MLS Cups?
0.43 2015: *Columbus-Portland (ESPN)
0.6 2014: *Los Angeles-New England (ESPN)
0.5 2013: Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake (ESPN)
0.7 2012: Los Angeles-Houston (ESPN)
0.8 2011: Los Angeles-Houston (ESPN)
0.44 2010: Colorado-FC Dallas (ESPN)
0.8 2009: Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles (ESPN)
0.6 2008: Columbus-New York (ABC)
0.8 2007: Houston-New England (ABC)
0.8 2006: Houston-New England (ABC)
0.8 2005: Los Angeles-New England (ABC)
0.8 2004: D.C. United-Kansas City (ABC)
0.6 2003: San Jose-Chicago (ABC)
0.8 2002: Los Angeles-New England (ABC)
1.0 2001: San Jose-Los Angeles (ABC)
0.7 2000: Kansas City-Chicago (ABC)
0.7 1999: D.C. United-Los Angeles (ABC)
1.0 1998: Chicago-D.C. United (ABC)
1.4 1997: D.C. United-Colorado (ABC)
1.4 1996: D.C. United-Los Angeles (ABC)
H/T Sports TV Ratings.