What are the most popular soccer leagues on US television? Some of the answers may surprise you.
After tabulating our research of TV ratings data over the past 12 months, we looked at each league separately to see which ones are the most popular on US television based on the average number of viewers per live game.
While we deal in concrete numbers (thanks to Sports TV Ratings and our contacts within the industry), some of the reporting of TV viewing numbers found elsewhere online is PR spin. Take, for example, the Bundesliga feeding Goal.com that the German league is the second most-watched European league on English-language television in the States. While it sounds like an impressive claim, it’s untrue. Over the course of the entire Bundesliga season, games on FOX Sports averaged fewer than 100,000 viewers per match.
The Bundesliga’s sleight of hand involved calculating the numbers from games that artificially elevated the viewing numbers, such as a tape-delayed Bayern Munich game that was sandwiched in between NFL broadcasts on a Sunday, as well as scheduling 8 games on over-the-air FOX network during the latter half of the 2015/16 season in order to juice the numbers (games involving any team from any league aired on FOX would see bigger numbers given that the over-the-air FOX network is in 116 million homes). Most of those games generated fewer than 500,000 viewers per game, which for the placement on an over-the-channel on a Saturday afternoon is poor, to say the least.
Imagine if other soccer leagues in the United States had the luxury of having their games broadcast on an over-the-air network, and how that would massively inflate their numbers.
PR spin tactics aside, here’s our dive into the most popular soccer leagues on US television (see below). First, note the number of homes that each soccer network is in (as of press time):
• FOX (116 million homes)
• FOX Sports 1 (83 million homes)
• FOX Sports 2 (51 million homes)
• FOX Deportes (22 million homes)
• beIN SPORTS (23 million homes)
• beIN SPORTS en Español (18 million homes)
• NBCSN (82 million homes)
• ESPN (89 million homes)
• ESPN2 (89 million homes)
• Univision Deportes (47 million homes)
1. Liga MX
While it’s difficult to quantify an exact average for Liga MX games because many of them are on the free-to-air Univision where TV ratings data is harder to obtain, there’s no doubt that Liga MX is the most-watched soccer league on US television.