MLS fails to make positive impression on TV ratings


This past weekend, Major League Soccer and its TV partners pulled out all of the stops to try to boost its fledgling TV ratings. Unfortunately despite the much hyped MLS Rivalry Week, the results yet again failed to move the needle.

First, FOX had its first-ever MLS game that aired nationally on FOX broadcast television. Not only that, but FOX and MLS worked together to feature the game immediately after the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Crystal Palace, hoping that fans of English soccer would continue watching the Hudson River derby.

Second, the Sunday game between Cascadia Cup game between Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps was featured on the main ESPN network, which meant that the more high-profile Copa del Rey final between Sevilla and Barcelona was pushed to ESPN2.

And third and finally, the California Clásico between San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy was featured prominently on FOX Sports 1 during primetime.

Everything was primed for Major League Soccer to make a big splash.

So how did MLS do against the competition?

For those MLS and FOX executives hoping that the FA Cup viewers would stick around to watch the New York City-New York Red Bulls game, they would have been disappointed by the fact that 41% of the average viewing audience that watched Manchester United beat Crystal Palace didn’t watch the Hudson River derby. The average viewing audience for the FA Cup Final was 1,018,000 compared to the average viewing audience of 595,000 for NYCFC-New York Red Bulls.

The New York derby viewing audience number is disappointing especially when you consider that New York City is the number one TV market in the United States. There are 7.3 million homes that have televisions in New York, which represents 6.5% of the total in the USA.

Moving to Sunday, despite being on ESPN, the average viewing audience number for the Portland-Vancouver game failed to beat Sevilla against Barcelona, which was on ESPN2. Three thousand more viewers, on average, watched the Copa del Rey final than the MLS game. Although

Third and finally, the Sunday night primetime broadcast of San Jose against Los Angeles generated a viewing audience average of 210,000 across FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes. The 151,000 of those viewers who watched the game on FOX Sports 1 is 23% below FS1’s average for the 2015 MLS regular season.

Meanwhile, here are the soccer TV ratings from May 19-25, 2016 for all live games shown on US television:

Pos.TeamsNo. of viewersTV NetworkGame time (ET)Date
1Monterrey vs. Club America1,395,000Univision Deportes9:30-11:30pmSat., May 21
2Man United vs. Crystal Palace1,160,000FOX & FOX Deportes12:30-3:10pmSat., May 21
3New York City vs. Red Bulls636,000FOX & FOX Deportes3:30-5:30pmSat., May 21
4Leon vs. Pachuca498,000Univision Deportes9-11pmThurs., May 19
5Sevilla vs. Barcelona466,000ESPN23:30-6pmSun., May 22
6Portland vs. Vancouver463,000ESPN5-7pmSun., May 22
7USA vs. Ecuador429,000ESPN28-10pmWed., May 25
8Pumas vs. Independiente427,000FOX Deportes9-11pmTues., May 24
9Pachuca vs. Leon395,000Univision Deportes9-11pmSun., May 22
10Puerto Rico vs. USA304,000FOX Sports 1Noon-2pmSun., May 22
11LA Galaxy vs. San Jose210,000FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes7:30-9:30pmSun., May 22
12Philadelphia vs. DC United190,000UniMas & Univision Deportes7-9pmFri., May 20
13England vs. Turkey180,000FOX Sports 2 & FOX DeportesNoon-2pmSun., May 22
14USA vs. Ecuador161,000Univision Deportes8-10pmWed., May 25
15Boca Juniors vs. Nacional120,000FOX Deportes7-9:30pmThurs., May 19
16Atletico vs. Rosario109,000FOX Deportes9:30pm-MidnightThurs., May 19
17Puerto Rico vs. USA105,000Univision DeportesNoon-2pmSun., May 22
18Frankfurt vs. Nurnberg75,000FOX Sports 12:30-4:30pmThurs., May 19
19Nurnberg vs. Frankfurt67,000FOX Sports 1 & FOX Deportes2:30-4:30pmMon., May 23
20Mali vs. Mexico54,000beIN SPORTS Español9:45-11:45amSun., May 22
21Bulgaria vs. Mexico29,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español11:30-1:30pmTues., May 24
22PSG vs. Marseille26,000beIN SPORTS3-5pmSat., May 21
23Almeria vs. Real Oviedo25,000beIN SPORTS Español1:15-3:15pmSun., May 22
24Bulgaria vs. France23,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español1:45-3:45pmFri., May 20
25NY Cosmos vs. Eibar16,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español10pm-MidnightWed., May 25
26Houston vs. Real Sociedad15,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español7:30-9:30pmTues., May 24
27Paraguay vs. England13,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español1:30-3:30pmWed., May 25
28Portugal vs. Guinea12,000beIN SPORTS Español12:45-2:30pmSat., May 21
29San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Sociedad10,000beIN SPORTS7-9pmFri., May 20
30Vallodolid vs. Girona9,000beIN SPORTS Español2:30-4:30pmTues., May 24
31Legales vs. Huesca9,000beIN SPORTS Español2:30-4:15pmSat., May 21
32Guinea vs. Japan9,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español11:30am-1:30pmWed., May 25
33Gimnastic vs. Osasuna8,000beIN SPORTS Español3:30-5:30pmWed., May 25
34Japan vs. Portugal8,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español11am-1pmMon., May 23
35Mexico vs. Czech Republic6,000beIN SPORTS Español10:45am-12:45pmFri., May 20
36England vs. Portugal6,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español1:20-3:20pmThurs., May 19
37Philadelphia Fury vs. Eibar5,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español5-7pmSun., May 22
38Indy 11 vs. Minnesota4,000beIN SPORTS7:30-9:30pmSat., May 21
39England vs. Guinea4,000beIN SPORTS & beIN SPORTS Español1-3pmMon., May 23
40Guinea vs. Paraguay0beIN SPORTS11:30am-1:30pmThurs., May 19
41France vs. Mali0beIN SPORTS1:30-3:30pmTues., May 24

Note that viewing figures for soccer games shown on the over-the-air Univision network or Telemundo have not been made available.

SEE MORE: Browse through all of the TV ratings data from now through 2006

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