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Leagues: MLS

Watch Taylor Twellman’s short-sighted defense of MLS TV ratings [VIDEO]

In a recent speech at The Future of Soccer symposium, ESPN analyst and co-commentator Taylor Twellman went on a rant by using select metrics to defend his case that MLS TV viewing numbers aren’t as bad as everyone makes them out to be.

If you take Twellman’s words in isolation (see video below), you would walk away believing that MLS TV viewing numbers are in the same ballpark as those for the Premier League. But by using select numbers from one game (the Columbus Crew-New York City FC match that had 424,000 viewers, which was more than a Stoke-Southampton game), he used that one number to make a case that “numbers don’t lie, people do.”

The numbers that Twellman should have been shared with attendees at the symposium were:

• The average viewing number for a MLS regular season game on ESPN in 2017 was 272,000 (down 0.72% from last season),

• ESPN’s viewing average for MLS regular season in 2017 was greater than both the averages on FOX Sports and Univision Deportes, and

• In comparison, the average number for a Premier League game on NBC Sports so far this season is 492,650.

Yes, the number for the Columbus-NYCFC game was fantastic, but it was an outlier and not the norm for a MLS TV broadcast. A more recent number (one which happened after Twellman’s discussion at the symposium) was the 419,000 who tuned in to watch the Columbus-Toronto game on ESPN on November 21. However on that same evening, the Houston-Seattle game averaged 255,000 on FS1.

The reason why Columbus Crew numbers are greater than normal has nothing to do with the action on the pitch. The controversy over the Crew maneuvering the team to Austin has enraged soccer fans throughout the entire country. As a result, you have soccer fans from all categories (people who dislike MLS, people who love MLS, fans of other clubs) tuning in to see what happens on and off the pitch. Columbus Crew is the best thing that could happen to MLS TV ratings.

Yes, Liga MX does generate huge viewing numbers for select games featuring either Chivas and/or Club America, but the league as a whole on US television is averaging 469,824 viewers per game as our latest research from October 13, 2017 shows. That’s 22,826 fewer viewers per game than what the Premier League is averaging.

Lastly, Twellman’s discussion about the number of viewers who tune in to watch games on mobile phones that aren’t reflected in the TV numbers is an important one. But it’s the same issue that happens to Liga MX, the Premier League, LaLiga and other soccer leagues.

Numbers don’t lie, it’s true. Despite having games that are featured on the biggest sports networks in the country in primetime, MLS TV viewing numbers continue to remain flat.

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  1. tim

    November 27, 2017 at 11:52 am

    In context to other North American sports soccer in generals ratings are not great with the exception of Liga MX. With that said MLS ratings are awful even for the playoffs and have a long way to go. As a former fan of MLS i say hahahahahahahahaha. Thats what happens when you are a plastic, fake league.

  2. NaBUru38

    November 27, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Liga MX Apertura 2017 ratings on Mexican television:

    Águilas América: 8.1
    Xolos Tijuana: 6.8
    Atlas Guadalajara: 6.3
    Cruz Azul: 5.5
    Monarcas Morelia: 5.1

  3. Can-Tuna

    November 25, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    SIgh… No wonder I hardly ever visit this website anymore.

    • Dean Lynch

      November 25, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Why? He’s not being biased or misleading. He is simply stating the facts. I enjoy MLS but I am in the minority even among soccer fans in this country.

    • Tim

      November 27, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      This Anglophile Europoser hipster site is trying to suggest that the EPL is more popular than Liga MX in this country lol. Liga MX viewers are the REAL soccer fans in this country. Not a bunch of cosplaying hipsters who like to chant and sing in fake English accents and pretend like they’re living in England!

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