The first Cascadia Cup of the 2017 MLS season between Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers averaged 554,000 viewers on the FOX network and FOX Deportes combined on Saturday, May 27.
With a scheduled kick-off time of 3:10pm ET, the match immediately followed the 2016/17 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea. While the FA Cup final averaged 836,000 on the FOX network, the Seattle-Portland match had 472,000 viewers on the same network and 82,000 on the Spanish-language FOX Deportes.
The drop-off in numbers on the FOX network between the 836,000 for the FA Cup final and the 472,000 for the Seattle-Portland derby was 43%.
Historically, the Seattle-Portland game is one of the most high-profile matches on the MLS calendar. And having the game scheduled for an early kickoff in order to place it as the second game in a soccer doubleheader on FOX was a calculated move in order to try to boost TV ratings for the US top-flight league.
Last year, FOX scheduled a FA Cup final and MLS game as a doubleheader on the FOX network. In that MLS game, between New York City FC and New York Red Bulls, the viewing audience for the English-language FOX network was 595,000, which makes the 2017 number 20% worse than last year’s similarly scheduled game.
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