MLS TV viewing numbers drop 40% compared to opening weekend


The total viewing figures for the three nationally-televised Major League Soccer games last weekend declined by more than 40% compared to the numbers from the opening weekend of the 2016 season.

That’s on top of the 11% decline that MLS already saw last weekend compared to the viewing figures for the opening weekend of the 2015 season.

During the opening weekend of MLS 2016, a total of 1,097,000 people watched the three games that were nationally televised (Portland-Columbus, Seattle-Sporting KC and LA Galaxy-DC United) compared to the 654,000 combined total that watched Orlando-Chicago, NYCFC vs. Toronto and San Jose-Portland this past weekend. Overall, the numbers amount to a 40.38% decline.

The biggest drop was suffered by ESPN, which saw a 45% decrease in the number of viewers compared to the previous week. The viewing audience of 197,000 for New York City FC versus Toronto FC on ESPN2 was far fewer than the 362,000 who watched Portland-Columbus on ESPN a week earlier. While ESPN is certainly more popular than ESPN2, the networks are both available in the same number of homes in the US (90 million).

The only piece of good news was Univision, where, for the second week in a row, the network had the most-watched MLS game of the weekend. The 282,000 viewers who watched Friday night’s Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire game was impressive especially since Friday is usually one of the slowest nights of the week for television.

Last but not least, FOX Sports 1 saw a 10% decrease in the number of viewers for the San Jose vs. Portland game compared to last week’s Seattle vs. Sporting KC match.

MLS 2016 Gameweek2NetworkTotal viewersCompared to last wkCompared to 2015 season avg.Compared to 2015 GW2
Orlando vs. ChicagoUDN/UniMas282,000-39%+15%Not available
NYCFC vs. TorontoESPN2197,000-45%-19%-31%
San Jose vs. PortlandFS1175,000-34%-10%-11%

The most worrying metric is the sharp decline in MLS viewership on ESPN. During gameweek 2 last season, 289,000 people watched New York City FC’s home opener against New England Revolution on ESPN2 compared to the 197,000 who watched NYCFC’s home opener this past Sunday against Toronto.

Hopefully ESPN’s numbers will improve this Sunday when they feature DC United against Colorado Rapids.

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  1. Kei March 15, 2016
    • CTBlues March 16, 2016
  2. Lawrence Dockery March 15, 2016
  3. Jason March 15, 2016
  4. Tom March 15, 2016
  5. Creek March 15, 2016
  6. toby March 15, 2016
  7. CTBlues March 16, 2016
    • Kei March 16, 2016
  8. David G March 17, 2016
  9. Clay March 18, 2016

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