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TV ratings for US Men’s National Team down 15% in 2017

In addition to sponsorships and attendance, one of the major ways to gauge the popularity of any sporting event or league in this country is the TV ratings. Soccer is no different. For the US Men’s National Team, TV ratings have been good for the most part for the last several years. However, the trend this year is pointing downward. And with the US failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next summer, that trend looks set to continue until at least the summer of 2019.

In 2017, the average viewership for the men’s national team on English language broadcasts was 819,842 viewers per game, down 15% from 965,842 in 2016 (though it is up 12% compared to the average of 728,550 in 2015). The most obvious reason the viewership is down is probably the same reason that attendance was down slightly as well: no Copa America this year. The Copa America Centenario in 2016 was a huge boost both in the stadiums and on the networks. All six Copa America games the US played in last year drew over 1 million viewers (with three of those six drawing over 2 million and one of those three drawing over 3 million). While the viewership for the US at the Gold Cup this summer was nothing to sneeze at, it was bound to be down from last summer because teams like Martinique and Nicaragua don’t move the needle as much as Colombia and Argentina. But it’s a good sign that four of the six Gold Cup games drew over 1 million viewers and three of the eight World Cup Qualifiers drew over 1 million viewers (including the famous draw in Mexico that drew over 2 million viewers).

That’s the good news. The bad news is that while there were several TV viewing figures that were very good, there were also plenty that were not. Three of the away qualifiers aired on beIN SPORTS, a network that despite being in over 22 million homes in America, cannot generate significant viewing numbers for games featuring the USA. However, the least watched game of the year aired on FS1. But really, who wants to watch a meaningless friendly while people are still enraged at the US Soccer Federation for failing to qualify for the biggest sporting event in the world?

Here are the English language viewing figures for the USMNT in 2017:

1/29/17 – Friendly – USA vs. Serbia – ESPN2 – 596,000
2/3/17 – Friendly – USA vs. Jamaica – FS1 – 338,000
3/24/17 – WCQ – USA vs. Honduras – FS1 – 579,000
3/28/17 – WCQ – Panama vs. USA – beIN SPORTS – 281,000
6/3/17 – Friendly – USA vs. Venezuela – FS1 – 492,000
6/8/17 – WCQ – USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago – FS1 – 797,000
6/11/17 – WCQ – Mexico vs. USA – FS1 – 2,052,000
7/1/17 – Friendly – USA vs. Ghana – ESPN – 748,000
7/8/17 – Gold Cup – USA vs. Panama – FOX – 1,212,000
7/12/17 – Gold Cup – USA vs. Martinique – FS1 – 800,000
7/16/17 – Gold Cup – USA vs. Nicaragua – FXX – 657,000
7/19/17 – Gold Cup – USA vs. El Salvador – FS1 – 1,050,000
7/22/17 – Gold Cup – USA vs. Costa Rica – FS1 – 1,094,000
7/26/17 – Gold Cup – USA vs. Jamaica – FS1 – 1,772,000
9/1/17 – WCQ – USA vs. Costa Rica – ESPN – 1,069,000
9/5/17 – WCQ – Honduras vs. USA – beIN SPORTS – 256,000
10/6/17 – WCQ – USA vs. Panama – ESPN2 – 1,152,000
10/10/17 – WCQ – Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA – beIN SPORTS – 463,000
11/14/17 – Friendly – Portugal vs. USA – FS1 – 169,000

Total Viewership: 15,577,000
Average Viewership: 819,842

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. CTBlues

    November 30, 2017 at 7:29 am

    That last friendly versus Portugal was also on when most people were at work.

    • Lawrence Dockery

      December 1, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      That is true. But previous afternoon friendlies in Europe have drawn much better. For example, in 2015 the game against Denmark drew 400,000, the game against Switzerland 261,000, the game against Netherlands drew 680,000 and the game against Germany drew 668,000.

  2. Jonathan Ramirez

    November 28, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Does anyone know what we’re the viewing numbers of these games on the Univision and Telemundo networks?

  3. The Truth

    November 28, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Trying not to be rude, but this paragraph is not ok.

    “The bad news is that while there were several TV viewing figures that were very good, there were also plenty that were not. Three of the away qualifiers aired on beIN SPORTS, a network that despite being in over 22 million homes in America, cannot generate significant viewing numbers for games featuring the USA. ”

    This is the bad news? I cannot believe that you acted like the 22 million homes was impressive. It’s anything but impressive. 22 million homes puts it dead last amongst all major English speaking cable sports channels. ESPN and FS1 are in four times as many households. Even, FS2 has twice as many households.

    The poor ratings during those games were perfectly understandable. Many fans (myself included) watched the game on NBC Universo in Spanish. Some also used Go90.

  4. Tim

    November 28, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    “Three of the away qualifiers aired on beIN SPORTS, a network that despite being in over 22 million homes in America, cannot generate significant viewing numbers for games featuring the USA.”

    Uh, 22 million is not a big number of homes, compared to the 85 million ESPN and FS1 are available in.. So the writer is actually stunned that beIN sports can’t generate anywhere close to the same number of viewers as networks with nearly 4x the reach? Does WST even monitor the garbage they choose to publish on this site?

    • The Truth

      November 28, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      LOL I was writing a very similar comment at the same time. I agree. That paragraph made me face palm quite hard.

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