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Soccer surpasses NHL as 4th most popular sport in United States

4th most popular sport

Indisputably, soccer is the world’s most-popular sport. But is it the 4th most popular sport in the United States?

The beautiful thing about soccer is that it extends beyond just one league. Taken as a whole, the sport is bigger than ever before. In spite of this, it is no secret that MLS pales in comparison to the major European Leagues. Those leagues have devout fanbases stateside. Having said that, Liga MX garners even more support than MLS and the Premier League.

For instance, in 2018, the Liga MX final pulled in almost 5 million viewers combined over two legs. Each game averaged around 2.5 million viewers, more than MLS. Such is the nature of the diverse culture persisting in the United States.

As stated above, European leagues also rake in consistently large numbers. For example, the Premier League, the most-followed European league in the U.S., averages numbers that rival American leagues. Over the last three seasons, the Premier League averaged roughly 450,000 viewers per game. While the NBA and NFL pull in larger audiences, these are national broadcasts on primetime that we get the numbers for. It is important to consider things like kickoff times, broadcast locations and overlapping fixtures when looking at Premier League viewership.

READ MORE: How kickoff times influence soccer viewership in the U.S.

This also ties into the growth. The NFL and NBA over the aforementioned period of time showed dropping audiences. While the Premier League viewership in the U.S. dipped in 2020/21, there is consistent developments over the last decade.

Yes, the beauty of soccer is that it extends beyond one league. However, it also makes it more difficult to compare it against other sports. If Liga MX, Premier League, MLS and LaLiga numbers were combined into one soccer “entity,” how would it compare? And what metrics would be used to compare the popularity? TV viewing numbers alone aren’t enough. It’s a combination of various metrics.

Let’s take a closer look.

How Soccer is the 4th most popular sport

Ask most Americans on the street to name the top four sports in this country. Chances are it will be the same answer. Football, basketball, baseball and hockey.

We have heard that same top four so many times that it is ingrained in our sports culture. For instance, watch any sports talking heads show on ESPN, FOX or a different broadcaster. That top four list of football, basketball, baseball and hockey is again beaten into our brains. Not surprisingly, soccer is largely ignored on these shows.

However, what they — and many fútbol fans — may not realize is that soccer has eclipsed hockey. Soccer is the fourth most favorite sport to watch among American adults, according to Gallup. Not only that, but soccer is breathing down the neck of baseball. In that same Gallup poll, baseball’s two percent lead over soccer is the slimmest margin that a third spot has held over fourth in the last 20 years.

Furthermore, the average age of a baseball fan is 57 and rising. With soccer, it’s 35. In the same manner, nearly 70 percent of soccer fans in America are younger than 40 years old.

Moreover, soccer is the second most popular sport in the United States among Americans aged 12-24. Baseball ranks number five among that age group.

Just as important, soccer is making huge gains among Hispanic Americans and younger viewers. Firstly, soccer is the most popular sport among Hispanic Americans aged 12-24. Secondly, the sport of soccer is also increasingly popular among Americans aged 6-17. In fact, eleven percent of the TV audience who watch Premier League soccer on NBCSN are kids 6-17, compared to only 4.6% of World Series audience, 9.4% of NBA Conference Finals audience and 9% of NHL Conference Finals.

What these numbers tell us is that soccer has broken the top four glass ceiling. It is now the 4th most popular sport. Equally important, soccer will become the third most popular sport in the near future.

In fact, LAFC lead managing owner Larry Berg boasted this in 2020: “I think [MLS] definitely have the demographics in our favor in terms of youth and diversity. I think we’ll pass baseball and hockey to be the number three sport in the U.S. behind football and basketball.”

Playing the game

The global nature of soccer and its relative ease of access means it persists in other avenues as well.

For example, simply playing the sport. There are a multitude of reasons that children in the United States avoid certain sports. Concussions largely push parents and children away from American football. Soccer is not immune to that, perhaps that is why we see modified regulations regarding heading for children in youth soccer.

Comparatively, soccer ranks third in terms of most-popular team sports for children aged 13 to 17. Basketball and Baseball are the only two higher, with soccer edging out tackle football. The one caveat is that the survey, conducted by the Aspen Institute, is that flag football and tackle football are counted separately. Combined, American football ranks third.

Soccer may sit behind baseball, basketball and football, but it is comfortably in front of ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse. Lacrosse and soccer are certainly growing among American youth. However, as things stand, soccer is firmly the 4th most popular sport in terms of popularity.

Baseball is slipping, in more ways than one. As Aram Gumusyan reports:

Baseball is becoming more of a regional sport than a national sport. The World Series was once the 2nd-most watched team sports championship in America. But the NBA Finals average audience beat the World Series in 9 of the past 10 years.

Quantity of soccer games a big factor

According to Nielsen, soccer garnered the most engagements based on traditional and digital viewership. For example, among each major sports league, soccer occupied four of the top-five leagues in terms of broadcast hours. Due to soccer’s enormous and diverse fanbase, LaLiga, the Premier League, the Bundesliga and the Champions League pushed out more content than almost any other sports league. The one exception came from the NBA, which sat in third in terms of broadcast hours.

Digitally, soccer leagues remain at the top. In terms of followers, the Champions League, LaLiga and the Premier League rank in the top-four. Once again, the NBA reaches the number-three spot in the rankings.

However, while these leagues dominate in terms of follower count or broadcast hours, they remain relatively average in terms of growth. Of course, it is hard to grow a league that already has an extensive reach.

MLS making a difference too

One league going under relatively strong growth is Major League Soccer.

Generally, American populations look at MLS as a subpar league, something not up to the standard of the European game. Ergo, smaller crowds show up, less people care about in on social media and it warrants less recognition than other sports.

In the United States, there is a traditional big-four. The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League are widespread leagues that receive considerable followings.

Historically, sure, these are the four most popular leagues in the United States. Few would argue with the pedigree of the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. However, in the modern era, soccer edges hockey as the fourth member of that illustrious club in the United States.

MLS influence on 4th most popular sport?

It can be hard for soccer in the United States to compare with such a drastically different timeline. The NBA began 75 years ago. The NFL, or at least the leagues that became the NFL, started just over 100 years ago. The NHL played its first season not long before then at 103 years ago. Major League Baseball holds the honor of being the oldest league, starting way back in 1903. However, the National League dates back 27 years before then.

Comparatively, Major League Soccer is young. While other leagues came and went, notably the National American Soccer League, Major League Soccer continues to grow. Starting in just 1996, MLS was the new league established after the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Despite its public-thought not living up to the popularity of its competitors, the league has a solid, and growing home, across the country.

In fact, if we use the same Nielsen ratings as before, we see the MLS is actually one of the world’s, not just the country’s most popular leagues. Moreover, it shows that the MLS is fast-approaching the National Hockey League. First off, the cumulative reach of different leagues favors the NHL. Comparatively, the NHL has a cumulative reach of 359 million. However, according to Nielsen, 55 percent of that reach comes from China, where the NHL leads all U.S. events.

Personally, I cannot explain that phenomenon. The NBA’s circumstances with China prevented the league from airing in the country for the 2020 season. Certainly, that contributed to the NBA’s low reach, and perhaps it expanded that of the NHL.

In terms of broadcast hours, the MLS exceeds the NHL despite having less teams and less games played per season.

Growth

It is great having large numbers, but executives and fans alike still want more. Whether that be more fans following teams or more games played, there is seemingly endless potential.

Fortunately for American soccer fans, MLS shows considerable growth over the last decade. Entering the 2019 season, MLS experienced a 27% rise in interest since 2012, according to Nielsen Sports Sponsorlink. Moreover, stadium attendance continues to rise. Since 2009, the average attendance of MLS games jumped by over 6,000 up to 2017. Similarly, the average percentage of capacity during MLS games moved from 70% to 93% on that same span.

Top-four league in the U.S.?

If we base popularity on capacity at stadiums, MLS would rank second or third behind the NFL and MLB. Of course, that is only because these two sports take place outside. As a result, the relatively smaller, indoor capacities of NBA and NHL are a reason why they are not higher.

A better look would be at average capacity percentage. As seen previously, the average percentage capacity entering the 2019 MLS season was 88.3 percent. Clubs like Atlanta United and Orlando City, both of which are relatively young clubs, helps that trend. Comparatively, the NHL averaged 96.1 percent capacity in 2019/20, the NFL hit 95.15 percent, NBA at 95.2 and MLB struggled to just 66 percent capacity.

Few would argue MLB is smaller than MLS. There is so much more than stadium capacity that goes in to popularity. For instance, the 2020 World Series represented the least-watched Fall Classic over the last near-60 years. The six games between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers yielded an average TV audience of 11.35 million people in the United States. The NHL, generally considered the smallest of the big-four leagues in the U.S., pulled in an average of 2.15 million viewers as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in six games. On the other hand, the 2020 MLS Cup Final brought in 1.071 million viewers on FOX. Moreover, that number shows a 30 percent jump from the 2019 final.

Right now, MLS may not be as big as the other four leagues. That’s fair, but that is not necessarily the aim of this story.

Rather, soccer as a sport is bigger than hockey in the United States. In conclusion, it is officially the 4th most popular sport. Baseball, watch out.

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229 Comments

229 Comments

  1. Dustin Lechner

    September 19, 2022 at 10:49 am

    This statement is being measured by average attendance figures. Stadiums for outdoor sports mostly have higher a seating capacity than arenas for indoor sports. However, measured in league revenues the NHL is clearly much larger than the MLS. The NHL is a multi-billion dollar industry. Just doing a little research in the internet reveals that fact.

  2. Footballer

    March 4, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    There are many comments either supporting or disagreeing on this topic. Regardless what side you take on or not, one thing is certain, Football or “Soccer” as a sport has exponentially grown in “Amerika” and the usual dinosaurs “soccer haters” or naysayers have been diminished by seen the potential and exponential growth to the sport in general. Sone of you might be too young that “soccer” was in the dark ages in the 1990’s and the stigma towards “soccer” fans was high. Now go back to arguing about what Kyle might be right or wrong etc. (Tuning Out!)

  3. Michael F

    December 19, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    Deal has been reached between Disney and YTTV. Like I said… knew this would get sorted out soon enough.

  4. Ra

    December 19, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    @Michael F. Glad to hear from you. I thought the YTTV situation had depressed you, but I am glad to see you are still your old self…

  5. Michael F

    December 19, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    @Ra. Are you expecting me to show anger and complain and whine like you cord cutters do that don’t get all the matches live on Peacock? 😄

    It’s an unfortunate thing that happens where a contract dispute occurs and none too surprising when they do happen. At least YTTV gives an immediate price break by refunding $15.

    You see, I always look on the bright side and just adjust to the realities of life. Much better outlook than being overly demanding and angry all the time – smile.

    Truth is, ESPN is the only network channel I would view from time to time and I am sure this dispute will eventually get worked out before long. They usually do, where eventual compromise occurs. No sense overreacting.

  6. Ra

    December 19, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Record broadcasting rights contract (not talking about epl here) -> higher content cost for providers -> higher carriage fees -> record all-time high cable cost…
    And people still get excited to see how much the top 4 are getting in rights…it benefits only owners.

  7. Ra

    December 19, 2021 at 8:21 am

    @Michael F. Being a subscriber, what are your thoughts on YTTV losing Disney networks?

  8. Leo

    December 18, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    Just coming home from watching Spiderman. Disney won. The Mouse is here to stay. Youtube TV should bend the knee. Mouse is entertainment/ series/ good sporting events at a reasonable price for the folk and at a high price for the ones that want to pay more as well. I am glad Bundesliga chose ESPN+. Mouse just hit the mark again and again.

  9. Hans

    December 18, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    After massive complaints ESPN+ did try to show the Euros in what was an improvement to their original brain fart of the camera setup by a non soccer exec and quite frankly useless, but not as shameless in forcing users to cable like Comcast, they alone are winning the Oscar in that department. ESPN’s description of the showing of the Euros on ESPN+ was at worst ambiguous to the casual viewer, but it never had the feeling of forcing you to get cable like Comcast is trying.
    .
    In the end to the tech savvy here it doesn’t matter what the rights holders do as we get What we want When we want, Where we want. Rather then the ACC cabal it is more appropriate the WWW cabal 🙂

  10. SteveK

    December 18, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    No, Hans, in a rare departure from the Cabal, of which you and Mercator are grand wizards, many here were just as vituperative toward Disney for their bait and switch with the Euros and aghast that ESPN+ was not delivering every single game on ESPN+ exactly as they were delivering them on their cable channels. Disney was no lesser evil, and it was quite enjoyable to see you cord cutters all squirm when you did not get the Euros as promised for your 5 bucks a month. Then they backtracked, just like Comcast.

  11. Hans

    December 18, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    @SteveK
    “But it’s ludicrous for the ACC here to think Comcast is any less evil or greedy than Amazon or Disney.”
    .
    Very truthful statement, Comcast is just more bold and brazen in their approach of being evil or greedy. After they started Peacock and than advertised that the EPL games on Cable being available a few hours later on Peacock, they did a bait and switch, taking down the original advertisement and not wanting to show the Cable EPL games at all, to finally backtrack and show them again delayed, to eventually end up showing them +24 hours later on Peacock.
    .
    They showed their intentions and didn’t even apologize for false advertising. You can read all the infuriated comments that were posted here under the Bait and Switch article. The other streaming services are just the lesser evils 😆

  12. JP

    December 18, 2021 at 11:52 am

    @SteveK, I’ll preface this by saying I generally hate ESPN. Barely watched their cable channels even before cord cutting save for some Grand Slam tennis events, college football playoff…and that’s probably it. Might even have ESPN+ currently if not for NHL.
    But, I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning because of Serie A, and those features were there from the start…ie cable log in to access ESPN cable content on the App, etc. Didn’t take them years (or 17 months)

  13. Mercator

    December 18, 2021 at 11:52 am

    @SteveK – ESPN+ had a cable login and multicast back in 2018! What is your point it takes more than 17 months to add a cable login? Of course it doesn’t. You clearly seem to be missing JP’s point if you are pointing out that the UK’s biggest sport is, like the NFL, also trying to get Amazon involved.

  14. SteveK

    December 18, 2021 at 11:47 am

    “You’re all missing the point about the NFL and Amazon. The most relevant television property of any form in this country can see the writing on the wall about cables eventual demise and being proactive to have one night a week exclusively streaming.”

    No one is missing the point, JP, it is much like the Premier League throwing a bone to Amazon Prime in the UK to stream a few fixtures. It’s just I think the larger issue is what happens to the NFL Sunday ticket next season, will Amazon go for that, will DirecTV still be involved, will Disney make a play, how that will shake out will be more impactful I suspect than Amazon Prime on Thursdays.

  15. SteveK

    December 18, 2021 at 11:43 am

    “Peacock launched two years ago”

    Peacock launched on July 15th, by my math that is 17 months ago.

    ESPN+ launched in April 2018, that is 44 months ago.

    Hence why some of us here give Comcast a little slack as far as implementing improvements.

  16. Ra

    December 18, 2021 at 11:21 am

    @JP To me, the fact that F1 gave ESPN the rights for free to foment subscriber growth is quite telling…
    EPL has limited upside with NBC; they are not doing anything different they done in the last years.
    The amount NBC paid for these rights is a double-edged sword. They will need to milk the cow rather than playing a loss-leader strategy for growth.
    PS: Bundesliga is quite slow today, not unlike us in our last workday before the break.

  17. JP

    December 18, 2021 at 11:11 am

    You’re all missing the point about the NFL and Amazon. The most relevant television property of any form in this country can see the writing on the wall about cables eventual demise and being proactive to have one night a week exclusively streaming. They know it’ll mean less viewers to start, but also know it’s the smart play for the long term.

    Now compare to NBC who’s clinging to the cable model for something far less relevant than the NFL (no matter what some here have said, it’s not close to being on par of a major US sport) by not even simulcasting NBCSN/USA matches on Peacock (as CBS does with “lesser” leagues like Serie A)

  18. Mercator

    December 18, 2021 at 11:06 am

    @Greg – The difference is streaming gives you so many more options to watch. Before, if you didn’t have cable, you couldn’t watch any football at all. Now, if you don’t have cable, okay you can’t really follow the EPL but you can follow La Liga, Bundesliga, Champions league, Seria A for under $10 a month. If it becomes the price of a cable bundle, many people will just find something cheaper to watch. This is great, viewers didn’t have the option to switch to something cheaper with the cable bundle, it’s much less of an all or nothing proposition now.

    @SteveK – They just got the rights? Peacock launched two years ago. A cable login would have been most useful for the Olympics. The argument they haven’t improved Peacock because they didn’t know about the EPL rights makes no sense, they should be doing this for all the other content they have as well! I don’t think Comcast is more evil than Disney or Google, I just think it’s a much more incompetent company that fundamentally doesn’t know how to run a media business (because it’s a monopolistic broadband company, not a media company).

    Disney channels off YTTV are good for me. I share an account with some friends and family members and ESPN went out right before the end of the CFB game last night. So now everyone is fine cancelling and trying the IPTV for a bit. I have always used this so it’s only cost savings for me and I’m sure it will convert them after a week. FWIW, this doesn’t seem to have impacted the football as everything is on ESPN+ (including the Sociedad Villarreal match being shown on ESPN2). Smart move by Disney probably, they own Hulu TV so I’m sure they will get plenty of new subscribers out of this. YTTV is dead without ESPN.

  19. SteveK

    December 18, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Bad timing for the cabal, Disney and Google failing to reach an agreement for YouTube TV, those of you sharing logins might want to sign up for a free trial of something else right about now…

  20. SteveK

    December 18, 2021 at 10:22 am

    The strongest argument the anti-Comcast cabal (ACC) here has is the not being able to watch all the games in one place, not having one app as the single point of reference for all PL content, not enabling cable subscribers to view the content on NBC and USA that they are paying for within Peacock like Disney does with its cable properties. I agree with them on this point but realize ESPN+ has been around twice as long as Peacock and Comcast just got their PL rights renewed for the next 6 years. What reasonable non-cabal viewer would have expected a major corporation to have instituted such a change not even knowing they’d retain the rights? No one is the answer. But I will be right next to the ACC next August if Peacock has not been improved.

    The biggest fallacy within the Cabal is that those of us who subscribe to cable like cable. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I like being a legal viewer rather than an excuse making pirate. Besides paying for cable for NBC and USA in order to watch the PL legally I also have subscribed to Amazon Prime, ESPN+ and CBS All Access/Paramount+ since day one. I’m as much an advocate for streamers as I am cable. But it’s ludicrous for the ACC here to think Comcast is any less evil or greedy than Amazon or Disney. All 3 are just on slightly different trajectories when it comes to streaming and sports.

  21. greg

    December 18, 2021 at 9:08 am

    Yeah, what MichaelF said. It’s not about liking one company over another. And I’ll keep coming back to the idea that as streaming sorts itself out more, do not be surprised when you’re paying as much per month as you were for traditional cable to get even the same content (if not less) you were before. And maybe with less features like DVR, starting games on demand, quick replays, etc…But hey, streaming (shrug emoji here)

    And the irony of making the point about the acceleration of streaming lauding Amazon (Amazon!) as an example and meanwhile saying that people who are ok with Comcast/NBC’s handling of EPL and understand the reality of who owns the property and their larger interests are apologists for bad companies. I mean…Amazon! In the horrible company race , they are always going the extra mile to be most horrible. But hey, streaming (shrug emoji here)

    Anyway, enjoy what soccer is still able to be played.

  22. Michael F

    December 17, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    @JP. Your quote: “…for the CABLE IS KING crowd”. LOL. You are funny JP. Like we all are absolutely in love with the cable conglomerate concept. Ah..um… no. We just live with realities to happen to pay for something to enjoy the content we want to watch.. So that makes BAD people? – haha. Hilarious.

  23. JP

    December 17, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    https: //profootballtalk.nbcsports . com/2021/12/17/final-fox-thursday-night-game-generates-total-audience-of-18-0-million-what-will-amazon-do/

    Interesting thought on the NFL Thursday Night Football and streaming. Key piece below for the “cable is king” crowd.

    “Basically, Amazon hopes to accelerate the transition from traditional TV to streaming. If any property can help pull that off, it’s the NFL.”

    “It may take some time. And it could be a challenge. As the audience continues to fracture, it will become harder to pull it together simultaneously for a live TV event. But if anything can do it, it’s the NFL.”

    “That’s what Amazon is paying for. AND WITH THE CLOCK TICKING ON THE TRADITIONAL TV MODEL, THAT’s WHY THE NFL IS WILLING TO TAKE A SHORT-TERM HIT IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO CONSUME LIVE GAMES. If the NFL can take the streaming “phenomenon to and beyond critical mass, the NFL will prove its value as the world continues to pivot from cable and satellite to streaming.”

  24. Giovanni

    December 17, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Michael if you don’t have a care less about the world like EPL then don’t answer my opinion about the EPL and Liga MX

  25. Michael F

    December 16, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Typo correction: ‘thought’ should be ‘through’

  26. Michael F

    December 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Arsenal is a young squad lacking in leadership. You can expect the inconsistencies. I know others have made the narrative that Arteta is the problem, and I won’t claim yet that he’s the answer to winning the next Premier League title down the road. However, the direction he is taking the club by going younger and building off that makes sense and he needs the time to see it thought and we shall see if he can take them to the next step.

    Not a quick fix… but hey, they sit 4th in the table currently. That’s not nothing and just about the best you can expect of this current team and their development.

    BTW… I am not solely an Arsenal fan, I like several clubs. I just like to see a smart direction a club takes instead of making the same mistakes over and over after Arsene Wenger’s reign – which went on far too long.

  27. Mercator

    December 16, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    “Michael, this isn’t right. Michael…. No Michael, no Michael, that so wasn’t right!”

    Seriously though, Auba is out. Let’s see if we can move him before we end up in another Ozil situation. Give the armband to Ramsdale or Ode. Good win against West Ham but to be honest these sort of wins only make me more upset about what happened against Everton.

  28. Michael F

    December 16, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    @Mercator Your quote: “Yes, football is more popular than the NHL, but the NHL is still clearly more popular than any individual football league (except maybe Liga MX, idk). I don’t think ESPN is really splitting the NHL rights NBC style…”

    I fully expected this reply from you. I could have put money on it and made money – smile. And i think this comment of yours is splitting hairs.

    Let’s move on to something else for a topic. How about that Arsenal win vs West Ham?!

  29. Ra

    December 16, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    Another piece of information on growth under ESPN vs NBC. I remember that NBC would stop broadcasting the race to air commercials. No summary when they restarted whatsoever. Very amateurish.
    F1 viewership has steadily risen since the series moved from NBC to ESPN in 2018. Races averaged 538,000 in the final year on NBC four years ago before rising to 554,000 in year one on ESPN, 672,000 in 2019 and — after last year’s dip — this year’s record total.
    Notably, Sunday’s season finale was the ESPN networks’ highest rated show of the day in adults 18-49 (0.34) and 18-34 (0.27).
    Yes, I do think LaLiga will be bigger than EPL (across all demographics) in the US by 2026…
    https //www.sportsmediawatch.com/2021/12/f1-ratings-most-watched-season-ever-us-television-abu-dhabi/

  30. JP

    December 16, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    @Ra, “Btw, will IndyCar and MotoGP also go to the USA network? It may push additional EPL matches to Peacock. I hope they move MotoGP to Peacock. Then I would start to be interested in the service.”

    Same here, live MotoGP races on Peacock would get them the $5 a month from me.

  31. Ra

    December 16, 2021 at 11:58 am

    @Mercator. I am still very upset with the shenanigans of the last F1 race. I’ve never seen a more stupid decision in the many years (30+) I followed the sport. The precedence was for it to finish with the safety car. But having a red flag (all cars go to the pit and race restarts later) would be a more fair outcome if the ultimate goal was the spectacle. Both drivers with new, soft tires – that would be a more interesting ending. But I digress…
    It is impressive how much F1 has grown in the past few years. It will likely surpass IndyCar in the next couple of years. IndyCar averaged 1.223M viewers, the best in NBC Sports history (10% increase from 2019). F1 averaged 0.934M (39% increase vs 2019).
    Btw, will IndyCar and MotoGP also go to the USA network? It may push additional EPL matches to Peacock. I hope they move MotoGP to Peacock. Then I would start to be interested in the service.

  32. Ra

    December 16, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Good news for the cable users – the next increases seem to be just around the corner. Merry Christmas! https //www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/news/directv-sets-2022-price-hikes-for-satellite-streaming-services/ar-AARSPnF?ocid=msedgntp
    Every price hike seems to cover a full streaming subscription. I believe that cable will be below 50M subscribers sooner rather than late at this rate. It is a vicious cycle. Every price increase results in fewer subscribers which results in another increase in price…
    There is a big flaw with the reported broadcast numbers. With 17M subscribers to ESPN+ alone, it makes a huge difference. What are all these 17M people watching? Only ESPN+ knows, and it would be stupid of them to brag about the audience for a specific league. They have much more leverage by being secretive about it. Same for Paramount+.

  33. Mercator

    December 16, 2021 at 11:38 am

    @JP – Good knowledge, its actually difficult to figure stuff like this out without spending significant time watching. I would pop into Roma just for Jose’s antics, but generally just catch the Inter games. Sounds like Fiorentina, Hellas and Empoli are the ones to prioritise – but will have to pass on the Coppa games today unfortunately (although may not be missing much based on the above).

    @Michael F – Yes, football is more popular than the NHL, but the NHL is still clearly more popular than any individual football league (except maybe Liga MX, idk). I don’t think ESPN is really splitting the NHL rights NBC style – seems pretty clear they won the out of market package which is all on ESPN+ and pretending 6 games on ESPN out of 1000+ is the same as NBC’s 50/50 split is disingenuous and pedantic. You can actually follow the NHL with ONLY ESPN+, you can’t do that with Peacock when 50% of the live games aren’t available. And yes, I do still want to debate this – I’m a football fan and I will always push for football to be more accessible to the masses, and at a lower cost to fans like myself. We shouldn’t just sit here and take it. The Mechelen fans yesterday were protesting a 6PM kickoff time on a week day because its hard to make it after work. Fans regularly protest increasing ticket prices or broadcasters blacking out games for no reason. As a football fan you should demand more. I’m sitting here wondering how F1 is seeing 200k+ more viewers every season, putting up million viewer average for races, while the EPL hasn’t seen a real viewership increase in 7 years! My Arsenal deserve better. The EPL deserves better. The real tragedy is NBC could do much better but simply refuse – in some cases for economic reasons, but often it’s obviously out of incompetence or neglect (like not having a cable login for Peacock).

  34. Michael F

    December 16, 2021 at 11:15 am

    @Mercator Your quote: “I’m not saying ESPN doesn’t do what NBC does, but ESPN only does it with actually big properties (Football/Basketball and a handful of others).”

    Big properties is up for debate. I don’t deem the NHL as a big property in comparison to soccer, as this site alone just posted an article that as a sport, soccer has become more popular than hockey in this country.

    We can debate that all day ad-nausea as we have already done. You and I simply keep repeating the same arguments over and over and over. We can agree to disagree. But as I’ve said, I think its kind of foolish to expect every company or provider to do the exact same thing as the others when it comes to delivering their content to the consumer just because the others are doing it. You don’t like it and you have to live with it and adjust.

    Funny though… as you have told me – you have YTTV currently on a shared bill, so you get all your Arsenal matches.. and yet you still want to debate this thing till the cows come home. How about just be happy you got the matches already and enjoy the soccer?

  35. JP

    December 16, 2021 at 11:11 am

    @Mercator, as the resident member of the Serie A support group, I’ll give you my run down of teams worth watching (or not) in order of the current table.

    Inter – Yes, when they’re not coasting
    Milan – Not my cup of tea, but worth watching because their matches matter for the title race
    Atalanta – YES
    Napoli – YES, but taking a hit with all the key injuries
    Fiorentina – YES, open all match even when they have a lead
    Roma – Hit or miss, lately miss after being entertaining to start the year. Watch them if playing another club worth watching
    Juventus – NO
    Empoli – YES, 2nd half the better bet as they’ve made many late dramatic come backs already
    Lazio – Yes
    Bologna – NO
    Hellas Verona – YES YES YES, cannot emphasize this enough
    Sassuolo – Yes, reverse situation of Roma, slow start but have turned the corner and entertaining once again
    Torino – Yes, but only because I like them. Probably not for the neutrals
    Sampdoria – No
    Udinese – Another hit or miss, they’re also opponent dependent,
    Venezia – Yes, surprisingly
    Spezia – No
    Genoa – No, oddly they were a bit entertaining before the coaching change but very boring since
    Cagliari – No
    Salernitana – No

  36. dave

    December 16, 2021 at 10:55 am

    To give preliminary and possibly unreliable publicly available ratings data on a few subjects in this post:
    .
    * NHL Stars-Knights December 8 (national game) – TNT around 0.2 million viewers
    * MLS Cup Final Saturday – ABC portion around 1.1 million, TUDN portion (does not include UniMas) around 0.10-0.15 million
    * F1 Abu Dhabi Sunday – ESPN2 portion (does not include ESPN+) around 1.0 million
    * Liga MX Final Sunday – TUDN portion (does not include Univision) around 0.8 million
    .
    Total Spanish audience can run 3-4x TUDN for games simulcast on Univision/UniMas. That would put Liga MX Final Sunday in the ballpark of 2.5-3.0 million total viewers and MLS Cup Final in the ballpark of 1.5 million viewers
    .
    WST Twitter says Liga MX Sunday final at 2.4 million and MLS Cup Saturday final at 1.5 million. Seems congruent. Univision have not publicly released their brag piece about Liga MX playoffs.

  37. Mercator

    December 16, 2021 at 10:49 am

    @Michael F – I’m not saying ESPN doesn’t do what NBC does, but ESPN only does it with actually big properties (Football/Basketball and a handful of others). It’s a mistake to treat the EPL like these leagues – the EPL gets an average of 500k viewers! Michigan games get 10 million+. I’m not on here saying these companies should take one for the team and lose money or stop putting things on cable, I’m saying its a mistake for NBC to treat the EPL that way because the league and the sport are still growing. I’m saying ESPN would not treat the league that way because it only gets 500k viewers, they aren’t going to bump ESPN weekend content for that so we would get all the games La Liga style, on ESPN+. Fundamentally, the EPL is not that big of a product in the US market and still should be in growth mode, doing what it can to acquire new fans to boost ratings – NOT locking the games behind a paywall that is 10x higher than any other football league. NBC has no strategy to grow the league now – they grew it in 2013 by putting a ton of games on cable. That was a great move, excellent strategy at the time. But 8 years later, after tens of millions of people have cut the cord and have no cable access at all (primarily younger fans), the strategy used by NBC is not going to grow the league. It’s intended to milk money out of people who are already fans. This is NOT good for EPL fans and it is NOT good for the growth of the EPL in the US.

    @Ra/Greg – Games ebb and flow you never know when you will get a dullard or when the two will come out swinging. I don’t think this actually correlates much with the quality of the league. I’m less inclined to watch Watford because they aren’t great or entertaining – I almost always try to watch Leeds because win or lose its end to end. This is why Multicast is so awesome – I know people mock those of us who use it as if we aren’t paying attention, but really multicast allows you to find that end to end game. 4 matches going early, and you can see after 20-30 minutes which ones are opening up and which ones are a knife fight in a phone booth. You can see which ones are going down to the wire and which ones are over at halftime. When I started watching BL it was the usual Bayern/Dortmund affair. After about a year now I don’t watch Bayern much, their games are often boring and over by the half (not the case with Dortmund lol). Koln and Leverkusen are usually great though – haven’t watched as much Seria A but Atalanta always had some bangers,

  38. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    @Greg it is hard to argue that Leeds United vs Watford is a good marketing material compared to Chelsea vs Liverpool. I agree completely that for someone who follows a league, mid-table teams may be a must watch. For me they are Union Berlin, Leverkusen, Koln and Freiburg. But you have to be already into a league to start appreciating this..
    Someone new to the league (and in many cases the sport) will obviously want the marquee match…

  39. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    @Chris I saw your comment on NFL’s market reserve for foreign markets. Good catch. What a joke. And very condescending if you ask me. They think foreign viewers are stupid and easy to manipulate? It is no mystery that the NFL has not made much if any inroads in these markets….

  40. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    @greg. Exactly right. I love a good relegation battle and follow the lower tier table clubs just as much and them as intriguing as the mid table and top tier table clubs.

    Once again, some assumptions are made that are just not accurate. It’s all about a viewership’s habits and taste. And I can see why to a degree, this assumption is made – if the one making them hops around from league to league to find what they deem is their ‘match of the week.’ or must watch matches.

    The habits of a single league follower is so very different.

  41. greg

    December 15, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    @Ra – People who don’t find it mediocre. For whatever reason you find Watford v Palace mediocre and other people would say matches between the mid-table teams in the leagues you watch are mediocre. I’d rather watch mid-table EPL than mid-table MLS or Argentina or Brasil league mid-table. I find those matches to be slow and dull. I find mid-table EPL and often enough France, Spain & Germany to be entertaining enough. Italy a bit less so. But that’s a recent thing…a few years ago when mid-table meant low-block anti-football, any league was dreadful. EPL is generally fun.

    But it’s all taste. I just think you extrapolate yours to the world and say “nobody will watch this” and my point is simply that enough people will to make it worth Comcast/NBC to do it the way they are.

  42. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    Correction on post above (2nd sentence): “I just DON’T understand the rigid viewpoint…”

  43. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    @Mercator. You brought good points with your last comment above. And I won’t pretend to have all the answers either, I just understand the rigid viewpoint that one company or provider (NBC) should do as exactly what another company or provider does (ESPN). And as been pointed out before on this thread that is now reaching 200 comment hits (is that a record?)… some of ESPN’s strategy is looking exactly the same as NBC’s (comparing the NHL broadcast of games split from ESPN vs ESPN+ with respects to national broadcasts and their out-of-market package (which doesn’t include what the NHL Network airs) – so fans of the league need both.

    From you perspective, you don’t see that as the same thing… but I do. And I bet any devout NHL fan would see that as the same thing too. It is splitting the coverage of games to maximize revenue – where the consumer has to decide to get both to see all of it, and you cannot spin it any differently.

    Disney and Comcast are both guilty of trying make good on their investment and not lose money on their investments. If guilty is the right term to use here. As anyone knows any company that goes into business with a plan and strategy to lose money… is soon to be out of business.

  44. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    @greg That is exactly my point. There is not a lot of utility on Peacock for someone that is not already a fan of the league. I agree – I wouldn’t watch most of these even for free. But I would watch Chelsea vs Liverpool. So really, how many subscribers can they aspire to acquire with a mediocre offering?

  45. greg

    December 15, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    See @Ra, this is where I’m lost…you rail against what NBC offers on Peacock and it’s hardly that bad a run of matches. If you’re a fan of the league you’ll find things entertaining. But you’re not. Fine. But to denigrate people who are as fanboys is…odd. By that definition, anyone who finds joy in say Genk v whomever today or LaLiga matches other than El Clasico are fanboys.

    Or maybe we’re just fans. We understand that a Watford v Palace or Leeds v Arsenal or Spurs v Liverpool or Man City v Leicester match can be fun in the same way Bundesliga fans will find something interesting in matches with clubs besides Bayern & Dortmund, or Serie A fans who groove on Sasuolo or Atalanta.

    If you don’t think it’s worth your time or money, fine. That’s choice & the market at work. And even if it were free, would you really watch those matches? I honestly don’t think so.

  46. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    I saw the updated EPL schedule through Jan 2. Even $2.5 is too much money for this cra* called Peacock. Useful for EPL? Only if you are a fanboy. MotoGP? Just the same highlights I can get on Youtube. Olympics? Don’t even get me started.
    Already canceled to prevent any future billing. A dollar/mo would be more than enough for this amateur service. I will get another month of Star+ to get some sports around Christmas and New Year.

  47. Mercator

    December 15, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    @Michael F – Cherrypicked numbers, comparing to ESPN and FOX and not looking at the actual growth during NBC’s 8 year term. In fact, NBC’s very first year saw a huge jump in viewers to about 400k average. Last season was what, 450k average, the lowest since 2013 I believe? Like I said NBC grew the game initially by making so many matches available on cable – that strategy has played out as evidenced by basically no growth from 2014-2021. Everyone who would watch with this strategy is already watching, and there are not tens of millions fewer cable subscribers than in 2013. NBC hasn’t brought in a material number of new viewers since their very first season.

    Comcast is a public company, they are compelled to share some semblance of a strategy with their public investors. Wall street is not impressed and even a casual observer can tell Peacock is struggling, this is why they don’t release any numbers – if they were impressive they would be spamming those subscriber numbers everywhere. I’m not sure why you think big companies wouldn’t make poor decisions or have no viable strategy – again this happens every day, I SEE it happen every day. I cannot tell you how many of these “strategies” are really an attempt to work backwards and rationalize the CEO’s personal viewpoint. Just look at AT&T – they have made the same mistake several times now. I could have told you when they bought WarnerBros, this is a stupid idea and not a good strategy (its literally the same mistake they made with TimeWarner). AT&T, like Comcast, is an internet business, not a media business. Comcast, like AT&T, has no idea how to run or operate a media business.

    Craig Moffett, co-founder of the Wall Street research firm MoffettNathanson, said in an interview. “One, the strategy didn’t make any sense, and two, [AT&T] overpaid.” Impossible since AT&T is worth over a hundred billion, or shockingly similar to what we are all saying about Comcast?

    It’s a good discussion and I know we won’t see eye to eye, but as football fans we should at least be pushing for broader access and a lower price. I’m well aware I could be wrong on several of these things as well – I thought Arsenal would bottle it at west ham today for sure, and yet what day it turned out to be!

  48. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    @Ra. I am getting worn out from this tired exchange. LOL. I thought this was a soccer talk site and thus our comparisons for figures should be about soccer (league to league) etc and where growth trends are and could be. Not other sports properties.

    Time for me to now go and watch the soccer matches from today. Adios.

  49. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    @Michael F. And then 414k in 20/21. A 74% may seem big to you, but represents low single-digit annual growth from a base that is small, to begin with, compared to other sports properties.

  50. Hans

    December 15, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Man, what a massive exchange of passionate, sarcastic and fiery comments to wade through. Perhaps WST could create a separate thread where these exchanges could be preserved for posterity and consultation in the years to come.
    .
    @SteveK
    “Where ESPN and NHL sources specifically cited Premier League fans and their willingness to put up with myriad streamers, subscriptions and sources of frustration just to completely follow their teams.”
    .
    True, but that is a fraction of what will go towards the expense. Just think of how many subscribers that would be, not ever enough to cover the EPL fee. EPL fan boys are happy that Comcast is willing to eat the losses, the streamers just get what they want when they want either for a price they are willing to pay or get it for free from their usual sources that they have used all along. A win win situation for streamers. Your yourself have come to the conclusion that Comcast’s left hand doesn’t know what it’s right hand is doing when it comes to the switchover. How many of the younger generations are taking out cable packages? They know that this would be polishing brass on the Titanic 😆

    @Greg
    “this whole “cord-cutting, let’s stream what we want” will almost inevitably end up with some platform doing exactly that, either thru licensing or acquisition”
    .
    It already exists and it is called IPTV where you pay $8 per month for all the sports channels you can imagine, in one place and app, but IPTV providers don’t have the rights to broadcast it. If the legal way is too expensive or complicated people will go the illegal way, especially the tech savvy ones. Alcohol Prohibition, Digital Music Piracy, eventually the suits did join what the people are willing to spend on what they want.
    .
    Since all we want is “enjoy the football” we have our setups and I am happy with mine, money wise and quality wise. Watched the Arsenal game on live TV hosted on a P2P site and it was the BT Sports 1 broadcast. Excellent commentators and none of the DOGs (Digital Online Graphics) that NBCSN has. None of the arguments presented here will be definitive until maybe 2 years or less will have past, but we route for what we prefer and like.

  51. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    @JP. And you came here to spend the time and read these comments when you have no dog in this fight. Lol. So the irony goes right back at ya.

  52. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 5:29 pm

    @JP. I work for a living, thus unlike some of you… I can’t watch the matches live on weekday afternoons, but I am on-line to reply to some rather subjective, shall I say ridiculous comment posts. 🙂

  53. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    @Mercastor And… your quote: ” I’m saying their strategy of appealing to fans with cable has played out – everyone with cable who would tune in has almost certainly done so after 8 years now. The fans you need to reach are the younger ones who do not have cable, this is where the growth will come from./ NBC has zero strategy to reach these fans other than to give them the finger and say go get cable. That will not grow the game or the league, and your own numbers reflect that.”

    Incorrect. And btw… there are not my numbers. They came from this very site. And you don’t really have any idea what their strategy is, you just want to shoot continuous holes in what YOU perceive about them and what that doesn’t suit YOU… so that’s hardly any evidence.

    I am sure they have a strategy. To suggest a company of this size that invests in billions doesn’t have one, is just pure poppy-cock nonsense.

  54. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    @Mercator I see (that like @Ra) you like to just pick out one piece of information from these articles what can suit your weak argument . You seem to miss this:

    “Going back through the World Soccer Talk archives of ESPN2’s Premier League games in the 2009/10 season, the broadcasts averaged 262,697 across 30 games throughout the season compared to NBC Sports’ average of 457,000 during the 2018/19 season (which represents a 73.9% increase in 10 years; albeit Premier League games are helped by being available on over-the-air NBC once a week).”

  55. dave

    December 15, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    @Ra says “LaLiga has potentially a broader appeal than Liga MX because many Latinos are not of Mexican origin.”
    .
    Data about the Hispanic and Latino population in the US is challenging to analyze since the precise wording of questions will often drive very different responses.
    .
    Caveat aside, among people in the US who identify as Hispanic or Latino, ~60% claim Mexican ancestry, ~10% claim Puerto Rican ancestry, ~10% claim Central American ancestry, ~5% claim South American ancestry, and ~5% claim Cuban ancestry.
    .
    As is common with many ethnicities, the more generations someone’s ancestors have been in the US, the less likely they are to identify with a country of origin when surveyed

  56. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    @SteveK You seem a great supporter of monopolies and predatory market practices. I wish you just the best – Comcast internet and xfinity cable…and peacock, of course 🙂 A Corporate fanboy.

  57. Mercator

    December 15, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    @JP – Yes, the playoff system is well done and it’s been a weird year so far. Union at the top of the table after just being promoted, it’s a scandal in Brussels and Anderlecht haven’t looked good enough to correct it. Omicron is big in Belgium though so I’m expecting fans will be sent on hiatus soon. It’s not great on TV but there have been riots at matches as well and I think visiting fans are already banned. Wish ESPN+ would show all the games but they are pretty good about showing Anderlecht at least – I think you are right though there must be a few dozen people max watching some of these matches.

    @Turfit – There is no way to do this yet and Ra is right the Apple TV is probably the closest to what you are looking for. If you sort out IPTV, many of them should have live streams of everything on ESPN+ and Peacock (Paramount+ is much harder to find for some reason), and its like a linear channel so you can easily flip between the various channels. My problem is Seria A on Paramount+ – I just watch a lot less because I do actually have to change apps to head there to watch and Seria A rarely my priority with La Liga/BL on ESPN and the EPL. I actually much preferred Seria A on ESPN+ with the multicast for this reason, although the CBS studio miles ahead of ESPN.

    @Michael F – the highest ratings since 2015? So where was the growth 2015-202, they haven’t hit their peak from 6 years ago until now? You realize this is not growth right? Look at F1, their 3 years with ESPN and every year the average race number is 200k+ more than the previous year. They will probably average a million viewers per race this year when Abu Dhabi is included – this is certainly higher than the EPL average. To be clear, I’m not saying NBC has not grown the sport. I’m saying their strategy of appealing to fans with cable has played out – everyone with cable who would tune in has almost certainly done so after 8 years now. The fans you need to reach are the younger ones who do not have cable, this is where the growth will come from./ NBC has zero strategy to reach these fans other than to give them the finger and say go get cable. That will not grow the game or the league, and your own numbers reflect that.

    @Greg – It’s a business, NBC is not infallible. Every week I see some major corporation making mistakes, some very obvious, which cost them millions. Years will be spent planning a project or acquisition and the whole thing turns out to be completely bunk. These are companies much better run than Comcast (which from any rational investors perspective has no business even owning NBC in the first place). You think they have the numbers and won’t get it wrong – I’m telling you its very apparent NBC doesn’t have a real strategy here but to hope and pray some hit lands on Peacock. Big companies get these huge strategic decision wrong ALL THE TIME. Don’t forget Comcast is a cable business run by a little man who thinks owning NBC is sexy. If they were subject to the same sort of discipline from shareholders that AT&T is….well they would do what AT&T did and unload their media properties to focus on their actual business.

  58. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    @JP Agreed. That would indeed be a true fanfest.

  59. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    EPL so riveting that super fans Steve and Michael would rather be here debating Comcast’s business strategy with the great unwashed who prefer “lesser leagues”. See the irony?

    I have no dog in this fight, but it is entertaining.

  60. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    It is hard to resist, the only other thing I’d add is Comcast is so monolithic and slow to react to this whole streaming thing that surely they won’t pivot, they won’t improve Peacock and won’t watch what Disney is doing with ESPN+ very closely and the last thing that they’ll ever consider is buying or merging with someone to grow much bigger in order to keep pace with Disney. They will remain very happy to be so far behind other streamers. Count on it.

  61. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    @Ra, “You are discussing what is the most niche sport between the niche of the niche”

    LOL, yup. Sometimes when watching a somewhat more obscure Serie A matchup on P+ (or the great Verona/Empoli Coppa Italia match this morning) or Belgian league on ESPN+ wonder how many others are tuning in. Imagine that sometimes all of us could conceivably fit into one bar fairly easily for a drink or two and discuss our love of the most niche of the niche.

  62. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    @SteveK I am picking up on your sarcasm and I see you are laying it on quite thick LOL. Well played.

  63. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    @Turfit. Instead of clicking the back button several times, it is faster to double click the “TV button” so that you can see all the recent apps. Swipe left or right and then click again the Apple TV app. Generally, I am able to jump quickly between matches in different apps using the same button.

  64. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    @Ra El Classico… two matches out of the whole year.

    well, I guess we’re going to have to wait and find out, and will be fun to check back in 5 years to see. –
    Until then… it’s wild speculation. Those Spanish based fans have to first stop viewing Liga MX! And I am of the belief, there is only so much a viewer can take in or want to view or has the capacity to view (aside from you few multi-casters).

  65. Turfit

    December 15, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    @Ra, I dislike everything Apple……. but, I got an AppleTV just for the multicast/picture-in-picture options and the sports guide in their main menu. Yes, the guide is almost what I’m wishing for but it falls short in a few areas. First, when you select a match it has to open the app that the match is in (Paramount+ is the worse and slowest to load…..) and when you want to watch another match you need to hit the back button several times to get back to the guide and out of the app that you were in (I never leave Amazon Prime App to watch a BritBox show). Second, the guide does not include all apps. Netflix movies do not show up in my guide even though I have Netflix. Fanatiz, Willow, Eleven Sports do not show up in the guide. Third, not everything in FuboTV show up in the AppleTV guide. Example, “Next Level Sports channel in FuboTV was showing a cricket match, this match was listed in Fubotv’s sports guide but AppleTV guide only listed cricket from ESPN+.
    @Greg, If I could get the channels and the features that I want for same or lower price with cable, I would get cable. Streaming offers the best service for the products that I want at this time. If that changes, I will change also.

  66. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    I have to leave for the 2nd half of Arsenal West Ham but Michael, surely the longer term proof will be that PL viewership in the US decreases because of a crappy app, the high cost of entry because of the bundle and how confusing it is to figure out which games are on which network…viewership of all the lesser Euro leagues on ESPN+ will increase because it is more important that every game be in one place for $5, no wait, $7 a month.

  67. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    @Michael F. I am almost certain that the reason for this is the Latino population. All streaming services are having a very hard time converting Latinos…
    LaLiga has potentially a broader appeal than Liga MX because many Latinos are not of Mexican origin.

  68. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    @Michael F. You are discussing what is the most niche sport between the niche of the niche. We are discussing rounding errors in the overall sports landscape. No, I am not disputing that EPL is more popular between the Euro leagues. But to consider EPL the super-amazing property some do here? No, I don’t buy into that.

  69. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    @Ra Your quote: “It is no wonder ESPN did not bid that high. They seem to have very competent bean counters.”

    Go check again on what ESPN bid on LaLiga and tell me honestly that they will get a great return on that investment.

    It’s amazing how you guys like to leave out important little facts in a convenient way to suit your argument.

    I don’t really care either… but all this debate comes down to one thing. You and others thinking that Comcast is so much different than any other company on how they do business. It’s rather fascinating to suggest such nonsense.

  70. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    @Michael F. I do indeed think that LaLiga will pass it by 2026. It is not a high bar (500-600k viewers). El Classico has more appeal, and if they are able to reach the Spanish people population, it is going to be a fairly easy task.
    And, if ESPN really pushes it, they can do it even before 2026. No doubt. Again – it is not a high bar and Latinos are the ones that actually watch soccer in the US.

  71. greg

    December 15, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    @Ra – Right, but that assumes there’s even enough of a market at that lowest price point to make the revenue. Unfortunately any estimate of what they should do or are getting wrong is speculation because they aren’t fully transparent about Peacock sign-ups, churn, and viewership for EPL on Peacock relative to their sign-ups in that month, people who consistently view, etc…

    It could legitimately be that the EPL is close to its ceiling in the US given time of day it’s on, lack of American players, whatever. If as many matches are on Peacock only (or NBC main & Peacock) now (and yes it’s not always the biggest games but you can see all teams in the space of a few weeks) isn’t enough to stop churn or keep viewers, then maybe the league is just where it’s going to be in terms of consistent weekly viewers.

    Whatever you think of Comcast’s business practices I don’t doubt they know their numbers very well and know exactly what’s going to keep their overall profits going, not to mention the ROI on EPL.

  72. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    @Ra I would be willing to bet a lot that your ‘non-fanboys’ group (as you put it) is in the minority.

    Not sure if will ever know, but the proof is these numbers: EPL continues to be more popular and have significantly more viewership than any of the other ‘domestic’ euro leagues put on stream only platforms like ESPN+ or Paramount+.

  73. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    @Michael F. Remember – I am the one who doesn’t care what others do. I like to discuss the business side of it, but I don’t work for any of these leagues. As long as I have access to the live games, I am happy with it. But I have to tell you that if I were to acquire any of these properties, I would get the Bundesliga, Serie A, or UCL, or any other niche leagues. I have no doubt that they are more profitable. A small fraction of the cost and hardly any operational costs. It is no wonder ESPN did not bid that high. They seem to have very competent bean counters.

  74. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    @Ra Which is funnier, your sarcasm take of my proof of EPL’s growth that NBC was a big part of… or… your notion that LaLiga will somehow surpass the EPL in popularity in next few years due to “ESPN’s power” – as you put it?

    Yea, I am still laughing at that one. Now we’re having some fun.

  75. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    @greg We should remember however that ‘revenues = price times qty’. Because the rights cost is a sunken cost, the incremental cost is negligible.
    So – they would make as much money charging $40 for 1M people as they would be charging $10 for 4M people or $5 for 8M people. Advertisers obviously prefer and pay substantially more for the latter.
    This makes you think that they don’t see enough elasticity – i.e., fanboys will pay whatever they want and non-fanboys are simply not that interested. Another hypothesis – they are Comcast and got the whole thing wrong.

  76. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    @Ra I am glad you are impressed. Please provide the numbers that Serie A and Bundesliga and LaLiga is drawing over stream-only services of the past couple of years. Can those leagues top 1 million viewers when their provider doesn’t even put the match on an OTA network?

    “eight NBC and NBCSN matches averaged a TAD of at least 1 million viewers – tying for the most audiences of 1 million in five years, since the 2015-16 season.”

  77. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    @Michael F. PS: If you want to grow with the ‘aggressive’ 74% in a decade, they will have 610k subscribers by 2026 (5.7% p/y). So much for the non ‘lesser league… LOL Someone mentioned here and they are right – we should be discussing Liga MX if we were to talk about the popular league in the US.

  78. greg

    December 15, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    @Mercator wait…this:
    “the EPL not being available to half of Americans under 65 is not harmful to the growth of the league.”
    …is nonsense. The EPL is available to everyone. It’s a matter of the desire and ability to pay a certain price point. They can’t give the product away given how much they paid for it. The EPL, clubs, players, staff are trying to maximize the value of their rights. NBC paid what they thought it was worth. They all need to make money on the deal or there is no league, there is no tv provider.

    You can get a fair amount of games with just a Peacock sub. Pay more (Youtube, Sling, Fubo, cable…) you get more matches. Pay nothing you get one match per week (most weeks) on NBC and all you need is a tv antenna.

    There just isn’t a good argument in “we should be able to get everything we want in the way we want it for $5 month”. It’s not profitable or sustainable in the real world of profit-driven capitalism in which we live.

  79. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    @Michael F. Really impressed – so: 414k in ’20/21 from 263k viewers in ’09/10. So it grew by 57% in 11 years, which represents a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.2% p/y. Really, really impressive. If we extrapolate this number for the next contract period, they will have ~550k viewers by 2026. They really struck gold with their last contract… lol

  80. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    @Ra Look for yourself on EPLs growth in the last 10 years and since NBC has carried it from year 2013. Hardly at all the narrative that “NBC’s approach is harmful to the growth of the game”.

    Articles providing this data right from this very site.

    https://worldsoccertalk.com/2019/08/21/premier-league-viewership-grew-74-last-decade-us-tv/

    https://worldsoccertalk.com/2021/05/25/premier-league-delivers-414000-viewers-per-game-on-nbc-sports-during-2020-21-season/

  81. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    @Mercator, I also only caught the 2nd half, but glad I did. Such a fun league to follow in Belgium.
    Also love their playoff system. Gives a clear advantage to a club if they dominated the season, but allows for other top teams to take the title if things are relatively close.

    ESPN+ got the rights late in the season last year and the playoffs is most of what I followed (sampled it a very small amount years prior when they were on Eleven). With no crowds for the Dutch, this has become the main go to for non Serie A or big La Liga matches. Used to share that space with Eredivisie until the crowds were banned. Unfortunate because it’s having a great title race of it’s own with Ajax and Feyenoord slipping up last weekend. Crowds would make that more exciting, again.

    To tie it in with the NBC/Cable/Peacock discussion, this is the power of ESPN+ having such a diverse set of properties. Leagues (lesser leagues, eh SteveK) that would struggle to find an audience as a stand alone get a fighting chance for exposure and gain new fans. EPL is missing out on this as the younger crowd eschews the cable bundle. I’m in my 40’s so above the likely dividing line of cable/streamer, but have fully embraced streaming and never going back.

    ESPN+ getting Serie A forced me to dip my toes in the water and has been a steady move offshore until NHL made me jump all in. Maybe if EPL went all in on Peacock then Michael and Steve would become converts eventually too.

  82. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    @Mercator You are bringing up projected stunted growth possibilities and not substantial proof that “NBC’s approach is harmful to the growth of the game” or its league. All based on the fact that currently only half of the EPL matches are available ‘live’ for cord cutters??

    Please do better than that.

    I would love to see the growth pattern of the last few years for LaLiga and Serie A and Bundesliga now on streaming only services. That’s about half of the American audience watching any sports there that don’t have cable, and under the notion that all of this audience is primarily only watching soccer and why they signed up for that stream service.

  83. Mercator

    December 15, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    @MIchael F – I think you are the emotional one who has not entered into this discussion in good faith if you can’t even admit the EPL not being available to half of Americans under 65 is not harmful to the growth of the league.

    @JP – Great match, only caught the second half but its been wild. I don’t watch Gent enough to make an educated comment but Tissoudali has been great every time I have seen him this year. Where are all these Moroccans coming from – I think Morocco got done in at the Arab Cup because they just have too many good players based in Europe who weren’t released.

  84. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    @Michael F. The EPL audience today is not much bigger than 4-5 ago. Correct? They went with them because they were unwise enough to pay a truckload of money and they have ties with Sky.

  85. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    @Mercator Your quote: “A majority of consumers under 65 do not have cable. HALF the EPL games are on cable. NBC has restricted the EPL from literally half the US population, including its most important demographics (and the demographics which dictate growth in the future). The other half of the games are on Peacock, the major streaming service with the fewest number of paid subscribers who can access the matches. EPL chose NBC for the Money, FOX is not a serious bidder and we both know that, and the EPL knows that.”

    This is NOT substantial proof that “NBC’s approach is harmful to the growth of the game” when NBC has grown the popularity of the EPL as a league as thus its sport enough that that feel very comfortable to continue their partnership with NBC for six more years. A company like NBC fully knows the demographics of where the audience of the EPL is between traditional TV and streaming and will adjust accordingly. They didn’t go into this business blind.

    And your foolish notion to believe that “EPL chose NBC for the Money,” is just another one of your rash opinions when the offer for MORE money was on the table with a joint bid and EPL passed.

    Try again. You failed to provide substantial proof. More of your subjective opinion in an effort to back up your continuous echo chamber whining about how you hate NBC and Comcast.

    Let’s take the emotions out of this discussion. How about some facts.

  86. Mercator

    December 15, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    @Michael F – Yes, I do, I just said it. A majority of consumers under 65 do not have cable. HALF the EPL games are on cable. NBC has restricted the EPL from literally half the US population, including its most important demographics (and the demographics which dictate growth in the future). The other half of the games are on Peacock, the major streaming service with the fewest number of paid subscribers who can access the matches. EPL chose NBC for the Money, FOX is not a serious bidder and we both know that, and the EPL knows that.

    @SteveK – This is again premised on the notion that the EPL is a brad based property which ESPN would want to put on cable (it’s not). Unlike NBC, ESPN is an actual sports broadcaster, they have more content than they can actually show on TV. Putting the EPL on cable wouldn’t be “putting its best properties on cable to keep subscribers” it would simply bump other ESPN programming which almost certainly gets the same or better ratings than the EPL. This is the benefit of ESPN for niche sports, ESPN simply doesn’t bother to try to cut up the rights to milk an extra buck out of fans because their money and bread and butter is in football and basketball so unlike NBC, they have no need for properties to stick on cable to keep people from cutting the cord – they have the NFL and CFB for that and that’s what’s on ESPN all weekend. Netflix grew the sport? Netflix doesn’t even show the races! This is the point, that interest from Netflix never translates into following the sport if you are demanding a cable subscription to watch, like NBC does with EPL.

    @Ra – It is quite bizarre to see all the “EPL fans” on here defending comcast charging exorbitant prices to watch the league. As football fans, we should all want the matches to be available as broadly as possible, for the lowest cost possible. It has never occurred to this group that NBC has no idea what its doing and is shooting itself and the league in the foot. NBC knows whats best for its business? Tell that to Sinclair, on the verge of bankruptcy and having destroyed a whole generation of Baseball and Basketball fans, Sinclair is not realizing that actually ripping off sports fans isn’t a viable business strategy in 2021. No matter how high the cost goes, no matter how terrible peacock is, no matter how flat the ratings are, these guys will come on here pretending to be “EPL fans” urging us to think of the poor Comcast shareholders. Only in America lol

  87. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    @Michael F. Not so fast. I don’t think that many people will be interested enough in getting a sports streaming service for $40. I am in my (very) late 30s and would rather watch highlights on YouTube rather than spending $40 on sports. I just don’t see it worth it. The younger generation is even less inclined to do so. Cost to watch sports is decreasing as more content is available. And the younger generation seems more inclined towards Esports.

  88. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    Public service announcement, Mechelen and Gent in a banger of a match right now, catch the last 20 minutes….or rewind from the start 🙂

    Do as Kartik says, “enjoy your football”.

  89. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    John Ourand at SBJ just reported that “USFL games will appear on NBC platforms when it launches this spring, thanks to a rights deal that the media company signed with the Fox Sports-controlled league. NBC joins Fox Sports as the league’s two official broadcast partners.”

    So Fox is putting 12 games on Fox and 10 on FS1; NBC is putting 8 games on NBC, 9 games on USA and but 4 on Peacock…no word yet whether they will simulcast any or all on Peacock.

    FOX and Comcast just don’t get it. Think of the confusion and frustration, think of the cable bundle.

  90. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    But in all fairness (without irony) – long live cable! Maybe my “all sports I want for $15” will be gone if cable collapses.

  91. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    @Ra Your quote: “I am starting to think that Comcast infiltrated bots in the forum…”

    Nope. Not at all. Just reciting reality. Please read this very insightful take from @greg earlier (quoted again below):

    “….an app or platform where you can access lots of disparate content from multiple providers in one ecosystem? We know that’s essentially cable (and cable-like Fubo, etc), right?

    So I keep coming back to the fact that this whole “cord-cutting, let’s stream what we want” will almost inevitably end up with some platform doing exactly that, either thru licensing or acquisition, and it’ll essentially be cable all over again but hey, it’ll be streaming.”

    You are the one not seeing the forest through the trees. Just wait and see. It’ll happen and it will feel no different. Maybe in 5 years or more we can revisit this topic and you can give me your honest take on how it all went.

  92. greg

    December 15, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    @Ra, you might want to get your sarcasm meter checked. I didn’t get the sense he was saying “hoorah” just that right now the underlying business conditions hold that the bundle isn’t going anywhere so long as major players have a vested interest in keeping it so, and won’t undercut it until the consumer market bottoms out.

  93. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    More from that piece just for you Ra about the cable bundle:

    “We don’t know if ESPN+ is profitable, as Walt Disney doesn’t disclose such details. We do know that the company’s overall direct-to-consumer division remains in the red though; it lost $290 million last quarter in operating income. It stands to reason production and marketing costs linked to Disney+ are the key culprits of those continued losses, which by the way are abating. No sports programming comes cheap though, regardless of how it’s distributed.

    The near-term potential of ESPN+ weakens even further compared to ESPN’s ongoing success despite the persistent cord-cutting headwind. Market research outfit eMarketer estimates there are still about 74 million pay-TV customers in the U.S. While this figure could slide to just above 60 million by 2025, that’s still well above the plausible headcount ESPN+ might be able to boast by that point in time.

    Also bear in mind that while the number of traditional cable subscribers is still falling, the remaining ones produce big revenue for Disney. S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates ESPN generated industry-leading affiliate fees of $7.64 per subscriber per month last year, and that figure doesn’t include any advertising revenue the brand generates beyond affiliate fees.

    The point being, cable television remains ESPN’s bread and butter. As long as Walt Disney must remain on good terms with cable TV providers, it can’t risk alienating those partners by airing ESPN’s premier programming via ESPN+.

    The fact of the matter is, however, ESPN+ is not only not a game-changer for Disney, it’s not even in a position to become a game-changer in the foreseeable future.”

  94. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    That’s not me saying that Ra, that is Disney and Comcast saying that.

  95. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    @SteveK. “Long live the cable bundle”? Where do guys like you come from? So funny.
    I am starting to think that Comcast infiltrated bots in the forum…

  96. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    I guessed abut ESPN+ accounting for a few percentage points of Disney’s overall business, just looked it up and I was mistaken,

    at fool dot com /investing/2021/07/16/how-much-disney-makes-from-espn-plus/

    the analyst speculates it is only 1 percent. Long live the cable bundle.

  97. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    “We say NBC should make the games available to stream and your retort is to speculate, against all evidence, that ESPN would have done the same if they got the rights?”

    Yes, because ESPN+ accounts for maybe a few percentage points of Disney’s overall business, we’ve seen what they have just done with the NHL and some of us here view both Comcast and Disney rationally, that Disney are very clearly in no hurry to replace their cable bundle either, just like Comcast. Disney won’t be overlooking their cable income and it’s why they signed a big carriage deal with Comcast, they aren’t going to undercut that at the knees just to artificially boost ESPN+ ahead of its time. We all know the cable bundle is in decline, a few of us here guess is it is going to take a long time to really decline to the point that you will be happy.

    “Everyone got very quiet when we mentioned what ESPN has done for F1. It actually grew the sport.”

    I’d say Netflix grew the sport and ESPN benefited.

  98. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    @Mercator Your quote: “NBC’s approach is harmful to the growth of the game” Do you have substantial proof of that??

    Please provide it and enlighten me…and not more rash opinion of how you hate the Peacock app and think its an abject failure. And I am not interested in a few hundred repeated ‘echo chamber’ blogs that you follow… as your evidence to this statement that… “NBC’s approach is harmful to the growth of the game”

    Here is what I know as substantial proof: The EPL chose to partner with NBC for six more years, when they had full opportunity to grab more money in a joint bid for their rights. This league is happy with the growth in the US that it has sustained to date with NBC as its partner… enough to continue the relationship for six more years.

    That’s not opinion. That’s a fact.

  99. Mercator

    December 15, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    @JP – Bang on and another reason Peacock is not fit for purpose. It does not have casual sports fans browsing like ESPN+ does, because NBC has basically no other sports rights. Even fans who love football, they aren’t going to subscribe to cable to watch the EPL, this is a delusional take on the importance of EPL or football generally in this country. Every cable subscriber lost is someone who simply won’t watch half the games. Cable is dying and it’s not as slow as you think – the only demographics with more than 50% cable penetration now are age 65+. If you want to grow your niche sport, it’s not going to happen when a majority of people 18-65 cannot even access half the matches.

    I also checked, there are 2 Lightning games on ESPN (of the 82 games in a season). TNT, a separate broadcaster, also has 6 games. So ESPN+ is getting me over 90% of Lightning games for $5 bucks, and over 95% of the lighting games they have access to. The remainder is annoying, but this is nothing like what NBC does with the EPL. Compare that with Arsenal, you well and truly could not watch half the season without cable. Put 95% of Arsenal games on Peacock and I will be quiet.

  100. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    @greg Your quote: “So I keep coming back to the fact that this whole “cord-cutting, let’s stream what we want” will almost inevitably end up with some platform doing exactly that, either thru licensing or acquisition, and it’ll essentially be cable all over again but hey, it’ll be streaming.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  101. greg

    December 15, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    @Turfit (and others asking for the same)….an app or platform where you can access lots of disparate content from multiple providers in one ecosystem? We know that’s essentially cable (and cable-like Fubo, etc), right?

    So I keep coming back to the fact that this whole “cord-cutting, let’s stream what we want” will almost inevitably end up with some platform doing exactly that, either thru licensing or acquisition, and it’ll essentially be cable all over again but hey, it’ll be streaming.

    I’m seeing the same thing having played out where I work – in 2010 there was a big push to consolidate services like HR, communications, business services & IT into campus clusters. This consolidated the total number of positions. Some people stayed in the new units, some left and went to work elsewhere. But guess what happened? Units started to realize that the level of service they were getting stunk, because fewer people were doing more work. In some areas it’s worked…purchasing for one. But many campus units have ended up hiring comms professionals or HR specialists to serve them, or an IT person to bridge service gaps and attend to specialized needs.

    The moral of the story is be careful of the change you wish for. It may not end up being what you want because the underlying conditions – the amount of work that needs doing, the cost of acquiring and televising sports content – doesn’t change. So there won’t be the labor or entertainment cost savings in the end that the consultants or tech & media strategists/pundits sold us on.

    Plus ça change and all…

  102. Mercator

    December 15, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    @SteveK – Funny you say that when MLS is putting up the same numbers and Liga MX even bigger numbers. I love the Arsenal but a lot of you are delusional regarding the importance of the EPL in the US TV market. Even the EPL’s newest deal isn’t particularly close to the NHL’s when you consider local/national/out-of-market rights. Of course, NBC wants you to believe this nonsense so you are willing to pay exorbitantly, but really the EPL pulls 1-2 million viewers on a good day, it’s an order of magnitude less than big games for the big 4 sports and less than Liga MX. Really sick of this nonsense – realistically its the second most popular league in the 4th most popular sport in the country, its a niche property in the US market and NBC overpaying does not change that fact.

    It’s also nothing like the other US sports because there is no local market for the teams. US sports broadcasting is by and large driven by the reality that for most non-US football games, the only people really interested are local market fans of the team. The EPL, with no local market, is nothing like this. I would love to see a citation proving ESPN would not have put all the EPL games on ESPN+, as they have done with every single other football league including La Liga which they are also paying a significant amount for. There is none – you are speculating about a potential ESPN flaw justify the current and obvious flaw with NBC. We say NBC should make the games available to stream and your retort is to speculate, against all evidence, that ESPN would have done the same if they got the rights?

    Everyone got very quiet when we mentioned what ESPN has done for F1. It actually grew the sport. What is NBC’s plan to grow the game when you need cable and cable subscriber numbers are collapsing? When your streaming platform is an abject failure? Let me guess, ITS THE EPL, legions of fans will trip over themselves to watch the glorious EPL, they will beg comcast to take their money so they can watch Watford get leveled by Liverpool. Just not the case mate, sorry to say. NBC’s approach is harmful to the growth of the game at this stage while the Mickey Mouse marketing machine is propelling niche sports to new level of reach and publicity.

    FWIW I thought ESPN did a great job with the MLS Cup final, although they should have continued to run the pregame on ESPN+ when women’s basketball or whatever ran long. Still better than the 10 minute pregame NBC is giving for some of these EPL games.

  103. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    @JP Put a lot more emphasis on a word in this quote of yours (I have capitalized it:

    “As the cable bundle SLOWLY dies”

    Yes… it’s got a long way to go before we see that happen. So until then, companies will do whatever they can to maximize their revenue. No different than what any company would do when they invest billions of dollars in something.

    Just like what ESPN has done with the NHL… as not all the games on ESPN are on ESPN+ or vice versa. Fans get shut out of certain NHL games of their favorite team if they are not subscribed to both.

    And at least all EPL matches are on-demand on Peacock. Not so, with NHL games nationally broadcasted on ESPN cable channel.

    I am pointing out the spade that is a spade – smile.

  104. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    @Ra I was talking about both covered on ESPN (you can reread it if you like), which was the whole point of my post. I take in what everyone says here, because it is educational. Not simply just what I care about or the league I watch.

  105. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    @Michael F. I thought you were talking about other sports, not MLS. I can’t comment on the coverage for a simple reason – I didn’t watch it.

  106. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    @SteveK, you fatal flaw is elevating EPL to something other than niche status in this country.

    If they want to become on par with big American sports, would need to capture large numbers of casual sports fans. Yes, hardcore EPL fans like yourself and Micheal F will follow and pay for EPL where ever it goes.

    Casuals might view matches shown on cable (if they still have it) and OTA. I know casuals who do this, but they also got ESPN+ this year for NHL and now in that ecosystem and available for Bundesliga/La Liga to capture those casual views.

    As the cable bundle slowly dies, it’s better to have all matches in one convenient location. Which is why NBC would be wise to start simulcasting all matches on Peacock, cable can still be part of the equation (like CBSSN and Paramount+ coexist)

  107. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    @Ra In case you still don’t get it… here is your quote that is about soccer:

    “You forgot to mention that MLS doesn’t even make it to the simulcast shortlist for some of us.”

    Um… there are more MLS fans than LaLiga fans or Serie A fans in this country that follow soccer and are on this site to read things.

  108. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    @Ra Not solving anything. Just pointing out your selfishness in a world soccer site that has no regard for the soccer fans that are devoted MLS fans. You clearly are not concerned with what doesn’t impact you. So that’s ok.

  109. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    “EPL comp is with other foreign soccer leagues.”

    This is your fatal flaw JP, Hans falls into the same trap, the Premier League has no “comp” to other foreign soccer leagues, not in the US and not globally. Did you not read The Athletic piece Michael F excerpted above where ESPN and NHL sources specifically cited Premier League fans and their willingness to put up with myriad streamers, subscriptions and sources of frustration just to completely follow their teams? Or did you draw a different conclusion from that? My takeaway from that article was some very knowledgeable people in the sports media streaming landscape NOT involved with Premier League rights view the “comp” for the PL as more like the big American sports and not like the lesser Euro soccer leagues that can be dumped wholesale onto a streamer.

  110. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 11:58 am

    @Michael F. If you think you are actually solving anything here, you should tackle world hunger instead… 🙂
    From my perspective, I am discussing soccer coverage on a soccer website. So no, I could not care less about how people follow other sports. Even EPL, I am talking from a neutral perspective. If it is cheap and abundant I’ll have it, otherwise, I’ll pass. I am actually curious to see how NBC will try to monetize this property. I think it was a bad deal if you ask me. The multiple is simply too high.

    I really enjoy the status quo and being able to get all sports I care for <$15/mo (ESPN+, Paramount+, and F1TV). The last thing I want is to end up subsidizing other sports. So not only I don't care, but I actually prefer this way. They can make all the multi-billion deals they want, but I will not help to pay the check.
    When I hear about the multi-billion deals getting signed, I feel sorry for the average joes that will foot the bill. And the worst part is that they get elated with those deals. It does not occur to them who will ultimately pay for it.

  111. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 11:45 am

    @Turfit Get an AppleTV 4k. It does just what you described for soccer and all other major (and minor) sports. And multicast on ESPN+ and other PiP functions. I am not in Apple’s ecosystem, but the AppleTV is a must-buy for me.

  112. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 11:44 am

    @SteveK Yes… It is all in the perspective and vantage point of oneself and spin of the argument they give. Those that see things objectively all know each businesses do things quite similarly to maximize their revenue.

    I will repeat a quote by one earlier on this now very lengthy comment post thread… “what WE want”… LOL. Yes, if the pain doesn’t directly impact themselves, like other sports they might be less interested in, its ok and justified (smile).

    And as @Ra just clearly demonstrated once again in his very last comment post above… it is all about himself.

  113. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 11:42 am

    @SteveK, NHL and all american sports always required multiple subscriptions (or channels) to be a “completist”
    1) Local RSN for home team
    2) Cable package that includes network(s) that show national games
    3) Subscription for out of market games (MLB.tv etc)

    With the current NHL deal, it puts 2 and 3 largely under the same umbrella (ESPN+), as over 80% of ESPN’s “national” broadcasts are available on ESPN+. Less than 20% exclusive to ESPN cable. I expect that to shift when the playoffs start, no under any illusions.
    TNT only has a game once a week (Wednesday’s).

    As @dave charted last night, there are 1,312 regular season games a year, of those 88% are available with ESPN+ alone. When factoring in local blackouts, closer to 82%. This is obviously a better situation than the prior deal in terms of cost and convenience.
    That’s what the comp is, with the prior deal (and other non NFL deals), not EPL.

    EPL comp is with other foreign soccer leagues. Not American sports that have RSN’s and a split of local/national broadcast partners.

  114. Ra

    December 15, 2021 at 11:39 am

    @Michael F. You forgot to mention that MLS doesn’t even make it to the simulcast shortlist for some of us. So – I certainly can’t comment on this one.
    Many here have the impression that the most important EPL games will be on cable. But the quandary for NBC is the following – who will subscribe to Peacock to watch games between Watford and Burnley? Very few. This means that they need to have a good amount of marquee games exclusively (or simulcast) on Peacock. I got the Peacock black Friday promo (6mo for $15). My reasoning is that it was cheap (1/3 of the price I pay for ESPN+) and EPL will be the only league playing between Christmas and New Year. But in all fairness, I am only interested to watch the (live) matches between the top 6 (incl. Spurs and excl. West Ham). So, if it wasn’t for Spurs vs Liverpool this Sun, even $2.50 would be too expensive if I were to get zero utility out of it.
    Because Peacock has very little content besides soccer, they need to offer a good amount of matches to justify someone paying them $5. The value proposition is simply not there – unless you are already a hard-core EPL fan, especially one willing to pay whatever price tag NBC attaches to it.

  115. Turfit

    December 15, 2021 at 11:29 am

    I don’t like that with streaming, everything is segregated is so many apps, (ESPN+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Amazon Prime, and several other smaller ones) I wish I could get all of them in one app with the option to add the services that I want. I wish that I would be able to watch matches that are on ESPN+ and switch over to a match on Paramount+ and switch over to beIN Sports all without leaving Fubo’s app, or Sling’s app or YouTubeTV app. On Amazon Prime, we added BritBox and it is within Amazon’s app.
    @JP, I agree that $23 is too high. I’m thinking $10 a month is too high since it will include commercials and advertisements. I saw a report that MLB is pushing back against Bally Sports on their streaming. It is going to be interesting to see what happens with Bally Sports in the next few years if their streaming plans don’t work out.

  116. SteveK

    December 15, 2021 at 11:21 am

    “There is only one football league that is pricy and frustrating to figure how how or where to watch. It’s the one broadcast by NBC, of course…This is also where a large part of the dissatisfaction comes from – when you don’t get 100% of the games, the streaming app becomes an incremental additional cost instead of a replacement for a more expensive service (cable).”

    Sure seems like NHL fans better get used to several incremental additional costs…

    “ESPN is not doing the same things as NBC, the fact is ESPN simply doesn’t have all the rights to the NHL…Everything ESPN has, is on ESPN+. This is substantively different than the EPL, which has one broadcaster with the rights to every game, and yet still splits the rights between streaming and cable”

    Since everything ESPN has is clearly not on ESPN+ and if you need cable to watch ALL of your teams games over the course of a season it sure seems to me this is precisely the same strategy as Comcast employs with the PL…to the fans of Pittsburgh mentioned in that great Athletic article or the fans of Liverpool or Man United here who bitch and moan about their teams purposely scheduled on Peacock by greedy evil Comcast in order to force them to sign up for a streaming service, it is exactly precisely the same because the fan has to subscribe to something else in order to be a completist and has to retain cable in order to watch ALL games.

    Interesting that it was the Premier League fans here who handed this playbook to the NHL and ESPN and that we PL fans who appreciate legal viewing sources were the influencers. Michael F did you realize we were charting the future direction of sports streaming by willingly signing up to ESPN+ and Paramount+ in addition to Peacock and “cable” for NBC and USA? Let’s imagine what Disney would have done with the PL if they won the rights…we’d have weekly games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 that are NOT simulcast on ESPN+ just like the NHL, right? Imagine the outcry here at that bait and switch when all 380 games would not be on ESPN+ for 5 bucks a month?

  117. Michael F

    December 15, 2021 at 11:08 am

    @Nosferatu Excellent point on the overall quality of product presentation on ESPN for NHL national broadcast games.

    This is the very point and concern that any devoted EPL fan had about ESPN. They cover so many sports leagues and venues that most things that are not top 4 in popularity in the States will suffer from looking like the step child in coverage and presentation. Heck, the NHL left ESPN before because they were treated like a step child – giving far more priority to the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football etc. However, as we all know the TV landscape has changed dramatically since year 2005 and the invent of streaming has afforded the NHL a means to reach out to more fans. I personally believe has reached its full potential and will never be fully regarded as a national sport in the US. It is definitely regional and local to the cities that have a team.

    All we need to do is read the complaints of comment posts on this site about how ESPN handled the coverage of the MLS Cup Final (biggest game of the year for a US based soccer league with a decent following). This is something a few cord cutters that only subscribe to stream services that we hear from repeatedly (yes we and they know who they are – smile) could really care less about, as they multi-cast 4 to 8 matches simultaneously off ESPN+.

    To each their own and I am happy for them that they can do that. However, the devoted EPL fan is used to a network that gives ALL their focus and priority to the coverage and presentation of its league. And I am convinced this is one of the primary reasons EPL stayed with NBC.

    Now… wait for it. Here come all the repeated rebuttals about how awful NBC is. You know it’s coming. They can’t keep quiet. “Why isn’t all the games live on Peacock” yada yada yada. Maybe I saved them from typing and posting it all yet again. But I doubt it .

  118. JP

    December 15, 2021 at 9:29 am

    @Nosferatu, I see less games on ESPN and more on ESPN+ as a good feature. Over 80% of their exclusive games are available on ESPN+, along with the out of market on ESPN+ it’s a much better deal than shifting more of those on cable.

    I’ve hardly watched their exclusive games except for opening night and when my local team was involved (twice so far). There’s almost always an out of market game that has more interest to me than the game they chose. But agree, the announcers have been poor at times.

    @Turfit, that’s the case with every sport, not just NHL. Blackout rules are a necessary evil for RSN’s (and cable companies which carry them) to keep extorting local sports fans.
    At least Bally Sports is trying to go the stream route so you’re not tied to cable/Fubo to get the RSN, but the rumored cost ($23 a month?) is too high.
    If my local RSN offered a streaming option would go up to $15 maximum if the team is good and fun to watch with outside Cup aspirations (most recent seasons) or $10 if just a potential wild card full of aging stars, no youth in sight to replace them, and no realistic Stanley Cup hopes (last year and this season).

  119. locofooty

    December 15, 2021 at 9:24 am

    VPN is your friend for NHL, MLB, MLS blackout games.

  120. Turfit

    December 15, 2021 at 8:26 am

    My biggest issue with the NHL deal is that my “local” team that is over two hours away (with no traffic) is blacked out on ESPN+ and Fubo and most other streaming cable services do not carry Bally Sports which is the “local” market provider. Even the games on the NHL Network have been blacked out.

  121. Nosferatu

    December 15, 2021 at 7:15 am

    @JP, you’ve hit on the biggest issue with ESPN’s NHL coverage so far. Three months in and there have been four games on the network, and two were on opening night!

    And I wouldn’t be so sure that things will be much different or better than with the PL on NBC/Peacock. From the press release Dave shared, which is what I was referencing from memory, their intentions seem pretty clearly similar to NBC’s.

    That’s fine–it’s their prerogative. I see the appeal for a league in having their games on ESPN, but I think as this NHL deal is demonstrating, not everything about hooking up with The Worldwide Leader is going to be great. (I should also mention that their production quality has been quite poor so far, and some of the announcers they’re trotting out for their “national” broadcasts are inexperienced and straight-up terrible.)

    To me, it’s all about perspective. I was relieved NBC won the rights back for the PL because no matter their issues, I know I can trust them to not screw things up royally in terms of the presentation and the commentators. It was really, really easy to picture a scenario where watching games could be painfully bad on any of these other networks, and I don’t mean that simply because I’m an Arsenal fan!

  122. JP

    December 14, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    @dave, 1000+ so that could mean 1,069 and you get to the total, give or take depending on TNT’s exact number.

  123. dave

    December 14, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    @Michael F, good catch. Copied and pasted from NHL: “NHL Network will increase its NHL Network Showcase™ presented by SAP game package this year with a season-long schedule of 25 live weekend afternoon telecasts . . . In addition to its NHL Network Showcase presented by SAP schedule, NHL Network will feature an additional 65 live games this season . . .Each 2021 NHL game aired on NHL Network will be a carriage of local telecasts, including local announcers, and blacked out in each club’s home market unless otherwise noted”
    .
    I believe there are 32*82/2 or 1,312 NHL regular season games. Publicly stated:
    .
    * 1000+ local feed carried nationally on ESPN+ (blackout dependent)
    * 90 local feed carried nationally on NHL Network (blackout dependent)
    * 75 exclusively national on ESPN+
    * 50+ exclusively national on Turner
    * 16 exclusively national on ESPN
    * 12 national on ABC or ESPN and also on ESPN+
    .
    Adds up about right – 90 + 75 + 16 + 12 is 193 then add 1000+ and 50+ and you are at 1,243++. Within spitting distance of 1,312. Any broadcaster missing?

  124. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    I will add that for a certainty (as I stated before) that a number of NHL games each week are exclusively on the NHL network that is not on ESPN+ for out-of-market games. Of course you require a cable-like subscription to get the NHL network.

    That is less than some are used to that had the NHL TV yearly subscription, where ALL out-of-market games were available to you via that yearly subscription.

    Just pointing that out, folks. If you follow a specific NHL team, there could games you cannot get via ESPN as out-of-market.

  125. dave

    December 14, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Per the ESPN NHL press release (all bullets are direct quotes):
    .
    * 1000+ Out-of-Market games available on ESPN+ throughout the season
    * 75 total exclusive, ESPN-produced national games on ESPN+ and Hulu
    * ESPN will carry 18 exclusive regular-season games beginning with the NHL FaceOff on Opening Night. ESPN’s October 12 NHL FaceOff doubleheader will be simulcast live on ESPN+
    * ESPN games will be available in the ESPN App with their TV everywhere credentials
    * ABC will carry 10 regular-season games, including the 2021 Thanksgiving Showdown, on Friday, November 26
    * All ABC windows and the October 12 season-opening NHL FaceOff doubleheader on ESPN will be simulcast live on ESPN+
    .
    No indication of playoff plans. ESPN do not always implement exactly as they communicate, but I would think it is close. Suggests 103 exclusive ESPN-produced regular-season national games (75 ESPN+/Hulu, 10 ABC/ESPN+, 2 ESPN/ESPN+, 16 ESPN only)

  126. JP

    December 14, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    @Nosferatu, to my knowledge only 3-4 NHL games have actually been on cable ESPN so far, and 2 of those were simulcast on ESPN+.

    The fact is almost all their NHL content has been on Plus (one ABC so far). Also don’t expect that to hold for the playoffs, but to compare to what NBC does with EPL is flat out wrong.

  127. Nosferatu

    December 14, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    @Mercator, You say that “Everything ESPN has, is on ESPN+” in terms of their NHL deal.

    I believe this is incorrect. All NHL games on ABC will also be simulcast on ESPN+ (similar to NBC Premier League games also on Peacock), but from my understanding only two of ESPN’s games will be on ESPN+. I’m not sure if this will also hold come the playoffs, but it makes it pretty clear that this isn’t actually any different than what NBC is doing with the PL.

    And I can’t help but think this is what ESPN would have done had they won the PL rights.

  128. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    @Ra. Well we certainly like to have fun don’t we?

    I can ask you why you hate something so much when you don’t even have a horse in the race? As you have already stated you don’t even follow the EPL.

    I think my question to you is much more credible than your question to me. I am really not defending anything, i just learn to live the realities of life and adjust and not complain. Life is way too short for such nonsense. And I believe its certainly a more healthy perspective.

  129. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    @Mercator I had these bastards when I lived in NJ and they were the only option. Besides reliability and performance issues, their upload speeds are crap. You must be getting ~30Mbps, which makes working from home a nightmare if you use onedrive or shared folders through VPN… here is another prime example of Comcast being Comcast:
    https //www.google.com/amp/s/arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/03/comcast-hides-upload-speeds-deep-inside-its-infuriating-ordering-system/%3famp=1

  130. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    @Michael F. I get mine from ATT fiber. A necessary evil, but I can’t complain. But would never defend them either. So- you don’t even use Comcast for internet (or maybe that is one of the reasons why you don’t hate them) and you still keep defending them? Is it only because of EPL? If it is, you must be in love with Rebecca or the MIB… If it is MIB, you seem to have company from another soul here… 🙂

  131. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    @Mercator. I guess some of it depends on what you are using for your throughput. My experience is that YTTV was superior in every way in overall picture quality over FuBo.

    I had FuBo for 2 years and enjoyed it, but the DVR cloud features on YTTV of recording sports leagues in one click and having ability to watch all the key plays of a game in progress or after it’s done is outstanding. Plus the search engine capabilities to find specific content is impressive. And as I mentioned – picture quality was superior for me via YTTV vs FuBo, another prime reason why I switched over after a 7 day trial.

  132. Mercator

    December 14, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    @Michael F – Funny because I’m not actually that impressed with YTTV app. The picture quality is not great, its basically cable quality, and aside from the unlimited DVR I don’t think there are many other compelling features. FUBO for example has multicast and the fan view that was mentioned on here – that’s real improvement over a cable box. For the advanced features like Alexa integration, I use a completely separate app and then login with my YTTV credentials. None of the streaming apps (Peacock, ESPN+, P+) let you record, but I’m able to record live content from all these services with an IPTV app. Something is very very wrong if random third party app makers and unlicensed streamers are offering apps with significantly more functionality than major broadcasters are putting out.

    I have comcast for internet and they are a criminal enterprise as far as I am concerned. Their internet, whatever the speed, is not fiber and so isn’t very consistent. That said if you fight them you can get good deals. I pay $70 for unlimited gigabit and my market only has Comcast – I recommend calling on Xmas day as you get foreign call center workers who if pushed will give you deals other reps will say you are not eligible for.

  133. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    @Ra. I don’t know. I have never had a Comcast cable subscription. That’s available in other parts of this country, not where I am.

    Where do you get your high speed for internet? Companies like Comcast, Verizon FIOS or Spectrum provide that service too. Is it reliable for you? I am with Spectrum and it is very reliable. –
    Just sayin… you can hate something for one thing, but they provide something else that services your needs.

  134. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    @Michael F. So – if I understand it correctly, the things you value in cable are actually offered by Google rather than Comcast? You are now starting to make sense…as Hans put it, Comcast could not arrange a pissing contest in a brewery.

  135. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    @Mercator. As you know, I am not a traditional cable subscriber. I am subscribed to YTTV, and I completely agree with you on all of its outstanding DVR cloud features. But I have come to view YTTV like some of the other folks here (i.e. @Ra, @Hans and I thought yourself)… like a cable-like subscription (carrying many of the cable network bundle of channels that you and @Ra and @Hans so dislike).

    But yes, of course… the features of YTTV as an example for a stream service is top notch. It is actually the very reason why I hold onto YTTV — these features. They are so convenient, and make watching content the way it should be.

    My comparison of saying that streaming isn’t any better, was focused on the studio company streaming apps like Peacock, Paramount+, and even ESPN+ to a degree. They are not as convenient and powerful as these live tv stream provider apps – most notably YTTV.

  136. Mercator

    December 14, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    @Michael F – ESPN is not doing the same things as NBC, the fact is ESPN simply doesn’t have all the rights to the NHL. TNT holds some rights and RSNs hold local rights. Everything ESPN has, is on ESPN+. This is substantively different than the EPL, which has one broadcaster with the rights to every game, and yet still splits the rights between streaming and cable.

    To your earlier points, I agree streaming isn’t as convenient as cable when the broadcasters completely bottle it – this is why Peacock upsets me so much, it could actually be great if NBC could sort its feet out but they haven’t and the result is worse than cable. I think ESPN+ is better than cable, it’s higher quality picture, multicast, FF/RR/Pause and I’ve found La Liga replays to be up almost instantly. That said, Hockey is also not as big as Hockey fans think. ESPN was showing Basketball and College football during the Caps game last Friday (I know because I watched with Multicast!), and frankly those two sports are going to get the ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 slots over hockey. This is the benefit of streaming, you get access to content that otherwise wouldn’t even be on TV to watch at all.

    I’m not sure how you can say streaming isn’t any better. I was fiddling around this weekend and got my YTTV subscription working with Alexa. I can have channels play or change at prerecorded intervals, so I could for example load up the EPL schedule for the year and the TVs would all change automatically to USA/NBCSN when an EPL game is on. I watch every Thursday NFL game in 4K, impossible on a cable box. These are the features broadcasters should be adding to their apps – people will pay a premium to see EPL in 60FPS or 4K for example, yet NBC doesn’t offer it. ESPN is really the only one offering a streaming app that goes above and beyond your cable box, and even ESPN could be doing much better. Most of these companies need to hire more programmers and realize that their job isn’t just rebroadcasting whatever a league sends them.

  137. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    @Hans. Your quote: “Which we want”. As to that quote… re-read what we’ve been saying above. Btw… I laughed when I read this last message of yours.

  138. Hans

    December 14, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    “ESPN is pulling the same stuff with NHL fans…. as NBC is with EPL fans”
    .
    Ah, NO apples to oranges, ESPN went our route the streaming route which we want 😆 NBC can’t make up their mind which way to go but prefer to go the Cable route because it is more profitable. As mentioned before NBC couldn’t win a piss up in a brewery.
    .
    NBC put the Man Utd vs Brentford on Peacock to entice an audience to get Peacock, now game is postponed and no compensation for those who subscribed for it and no one knows where it will appear next. If it was on a streaming service, it will be there again when scheduled, no complaints and gripes.

  139. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    @Ra. I would agree with that for those looking for niche content for a certainty.

    @Hans. I fully anticipated a firestorm despite my disclaimer. LOL. I don’t mind the dialogue and perspectives. It can be educational.

    You guys need to understand that I (perhaps unfortunately) have stakes in the ground in both worlds (traditional and streaming). I have given my reasons previously that I watch a lot of different content (live sports and other) to require both.

  140. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    @Michael F. I have to disagree with this argument. For people interested in niche properties, the shift to streaming is clearly better. No question about it. It is a matter of availability. The other key difference is that traditional is passive, whereas you have to know what you want to watch when streaming. Streaming gives you choice, and I understand that not everyone wants it.

  141. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    @greg. Another good response. I find this shift of home tv entertainment from traditional to stream just what it is. A shift. It doesn’t mean it’s any better at all. And I am convinced that most people will come to realize that in time.

  142. Hans

    December 14, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Michael K, it did set off a firestorm of comments and I am sure you have expected it despite your disclaimer.
    .
    For many convenience is more important then money, but that goes both ways the Cablers (Baby Boomers tech challenged) and the Streamers (Millennials tech savvy). However one fact remains, to cover the 2.7 Billion fee for the EPL it WILL NOT be covered by EPL fans, it requires to get on board others, whether they are casual viewers now wanting to subscribe or more realistically Peacock requires subscribes that couldn’t care less about the EPL but want unique content and subscribe for that reason. This is a problem that is at the feet of the Comcast executives, not the EPL fans, but we are effected by the execs decisions to cover that fee.
    .
    The Disney CEO made a telling statement about what streaming can do and why they took on so many sports properties, “Streaming has an infinite amount of ability to broadcast content at the same time which is not possible on linear TV”. Taking this into account ESPN+ may broadcast more and more sports content and any given sports fan can go to the sport of their linking. That is why we like streaming we can have simultaneous windows with different sport events if we have the right hardware, or go sports event browsing like you do channel browsing except you stay in the same app and the selection is easier since live, replays and future events are all in one place, not on a different page of the EPG.
    .
    The change over from cable to streaming is unavoidable because of the change in landscape and a different generation of viewers plus the preferences of others whose choice of viewing is mobile devices. Who will come out on top and is most successful? My money is on Disney and Amazon because they have the tech know how, subscriber base and have been successful in other content and not just sports.
    .
    It is a race for being part of the top 4 or 5 must have services, for me that means Netflix, Disney, Amazon which leaves a bunch of others fighting for 4th and 5th place, sort of like the UCL & UEL place in the EPL table and I can’t see Comcast / Peacock being one of them. The streaming service table looks different for EPL fans then for soccer fans then for TV show fans then for Original content fans. But most of the analysts agree on the top 3 just as in the EPL table.

  143. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    @SteveK. You are so right, sir. I was actually going to point out something of the same nature… stating that ESPN is pulling the same stuff with NHL fans…. as NBC is with EPL fans. But like you said, there are some who are very vocal on this site that only see one specific viewpoint and slant to things. Their own viewpoint and how it impacts only them.

    In the end, it’s a business… and the business is doing whatever they feel they need to do. I don’t see Disney being any different in how they do business. And over time, perhaps most will come to grips with this and realize it.

  144. SteveK

    December 14, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    “And I totally get the frustration over a marquee game like Capitals vs Penguins not being available in the traditional way or in their own market traditionally- but only exclusively on ESPN+ stream service.”

    Don’t mention this again Michael because then we will be subjected to hundreds of annoying complaints about evil greedy Disney from those who complained mercilessly about Comcast purposely scheduling the likes of Liverpool or Man United on Peacock. What, you say, there’s no chance of that happening because there’s a clearly defined double standard here–it is perfectly OK for Disney to grow the audience for the NHL on ESPN+ because that is embracing the future but it’s confusing and pricy when Comcast does the exact same thing?

  145. greg

    December 14, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    @MichaelF – That’s exactly it, with the atomizing of content back to the owners of the IP to stream themselves. They want all the revenue from the streaming, not just from the licensing of the content. Which means consumers needs to have multiple platforms if they want all the content they used to have with a cable sub. So your choice is either to slim down on what you watch or pay relatively close to what you did with a cable sub & say an HBO or Showtime add-on. Plus Netflix when that became a thing.

    Do we honestly think that in 6 years the EPL might not want to just fully got straight-to-consumer at a price point that’s much more than the prorated worth of it in a cable or Fubo subscription? Of course not, they’ll want the money.

    The only thing to stop the atomization will be if the Paramounts and NBCs of the world decide that the net returns are better to license streaming to companies and not have to pay to develop & maintain their own networks. Or aren’t really good at it, as NBC seems not to be. If you watch Succession that’s the subplot of the Waystar/GoJo merger talks. Great content but sh!tty tech meets great tech in need of content.

    All this is a lot like the tax landscape state to state. Some will have low/no sales tax, but that likely means higher income and/or property taxes. Low/no income taxes usually mean higher sales and/or property taxes. Low on 2 of the 3 sources usually means underfunded education, poor roads, horrible services (Texas, Mississippi). If you want good schools, roads, services for drivers licenses and other things, you need to pay taxes. Same with sports and all other tv content. How much you want will dictate what you’ll pay, and short of pirating it there’s no way around paying near what you did with cable. The people & companies that make & deliver the content need to be paid so that they can make a living and keep it going. Those costs are baked in.

  146. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    @Mercator Good comments. I agree that the streaming apps should definitely have more features that what one expects from the DVR cable world has been used to. More than a few do not upon launch, and are very slow to get up to speed. And debate all you want, but they lack convenience that people are used to.

    As to your comment about the NHL being available at a cheaper price point… that is true, but it also comes with a caveat. ESPN+ out-of-market games are NOT all available as they were for those that were subscribed to the now demised NHL TV season subscription. Some of those out-of-market games only air on the NHL Network, which requires a cable-like subscription.

    And I totally get the frustration over a marquee game like Capitals vs Penguins not being available in the traditional way or in their own market traditionally- but only exclusively on ESPN+ stream service.

    It is definitely an adjustment, and the days of just switching on the box to find your game easily are over. People now have to be constantly follow schedules of where that game is airing on whatever stream service or network channel.

  147. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    @Ra And I see your viewpoint, but the fact is… there are many soccer fans on this site that follow other sports, and I am simply just stating it would be good to be mindful of that. I think its great that you and others have found very affordable means to view what you are primarily interested in. And choice is good.

    I still kind of chuckle because this transitional slow shift from traditional TV to streaming still has its price points that don’t change much if you want it all. Like I said, the content is all over the place. For example, now we have all these studio companies (i.e. Peacock+, Paramount+, HBO/MAX, Disney+ etc) taking all their content back to air exclusively only on their stream service.

    Remember the day when Netflix had access to all of this stuff?? It’s gone bye-bye. And I laugh, because its sort of the same scenario of a acquiring a cable package of networks – if you still want all this content.


    @greg Good response. Appreciate it. Right on.

  148. Mercator

    December 14, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    @Michael F – You are correct there are legions of boomers who struggle with technology and basic math and so the move to streaming is an unwelcome one for them. That was a decent article in the Athletic and you can see in the comments a clear divide – boomers angry they are paying for cable and there is no hockey on, and other fans who were paying $140 for NHL TV plus cable who are delighted to have 90% of the games available for $7.

    This isn’t to say all the complaints about streaming are borne of ignorance – you see plenty of complaints about limited FF/RR/Pause and delays in uploading game replays, which are completely valid. Streaming CAN offer a way better experience than cable but the way its implemented by many of these streaming apps is incredibly poor. They should not be releasing apps that don’t have the same functions as a basic cable box.

    JP’s point is certainly not moot. There is only one football league that is pricy and frustrating to figure how how or where to watch. It’s the one broadcast by NBC, of course. The NHL, with national games on TNT and local games on RSNs, is still closer to the EPL (i.e. you do NOT get all of the games on one streaming app). This is also where a large part of the dissatisfaction comes from – when you don’t get 100% of the games, the streaming app becomes an incremental additional cost instead of a replacement for a more expensive service (cable).

    For football, streaming has significantly reduced the price to watch and significantly expanded the amount of content available – unless you are an EPL fan. For EPL fans, the cost has just gone up and we aren’t getting anything additional.

  149. greg

    December 14, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    @Ra – Not to speak for Michael exactly, but he echoes things I’ve said here…I get your point about what you follow & like and what your preferences for tv service & pricing are. But…when you say “it should be this way because I consume this specific soccer product in this specific way” that is exactly a case of extrapolating your narrow view to a broader landscape.

    We’re all followers of a relatively niche sport and as followers of that sport are even more of a niche within the US tv landscape. You & Hans & a few others are even more niche with how you have set things up, what you want, not following EPL much if at all…the world may eventually go your way but we’re a long way off.

    Look at the LaLiga thread where I posted news of their new Spanish tv deal. In Spain the broadcasters have said their goal is to rebound the number of pay-tv subscriptions (not sure if they meant cable, sat or a mix). So there is going to be strong push-back to a streaming-only tv landscape from the companies with the money & content to influence things.

    As MichaelF says, this is the world we live in now.

  150. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    @Michael F. I see your point. In my view, we are discussing soccer on a soccer website, so I am not concerned at all worried about how people follow other sports. I actually enjoy following niche leagues and sports (niche is the correct word for lesser… LOL). Cheap, convenient, and very entertaining – couldn’t ask for more.

  151. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    @Ra. Btw… i am NOT complaining. Far from it. I just see shall i say rigid perspective by a few like yourself that tries to see only their viewpoint and tries to sell this viewpoint to the rest.

    It might be nice to consider what the broader audience is faced with and the challenges they have to go to only all streaming apps to watch stuff. It may not always be realistic or the most common sense for someone to do that.

  152. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    @Ra. It is a moot point because you are not primarily an EPL fan, so you are happy to find other alternatives.

    To suggest that’s what everyone else should do is a foolish notion. That’s like telling NHL fans to go watch the AHL or some Russian hockey league if it was somehow easier to access in one place or more affordable.

    The point is… this is America we live in. Many sports fans are fans of more than just soccer. They may follow one particular soccer league to their liking, but also are an NHL fan that has a team in their city and an NFL team in their city etc… of which its respective leagues they follow.

    I shared excerpts of that article to just demonstrate a point that living in this country where soccer is niche, obviously means a devout sports fan follows other things aside from soccer.

    Perhaps you and others require to appreciate that very fact. Thats all.

  153. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    @Michael F. I don’t see how it is mootable. If I want to watch a Bundesliga game, I just go to that section on ESPN+, same with LaLiga, Eredivisie, and Serie A, Brasileirao, and UCL on Paramount+. $10/mo. I don’t see how it is confusing.
    Here, I just told you everything you need to know to watch these leagues. The only other question is the calendar – who plays who and when.
    People like to complain that it is hard, but wouldn’t even have access to this content if it was for cable only. Following this logic, one can argue that it was even simpler before cable with ABC, CBS, or NBC only. Apparently, there are way too many morons in the world. This is no rocket science, and there are dozens of apps out there. The most complete is livesoccertv IMO. Has all the rock-bottom of the low of the lesser leagues. Paulista state championship in Brazil? Check. Brazilian Serie C and D – also. German 3. and Regionalliga? yep.
    Btw, let me know if someone figures out who will get the PPV rights for the Paulistao.

  154. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    The other point to be made… is the EPL is indeed very popular, and it is what it is. Its still divided on a cable network as well as a streaming service. To say the obvious that its “its only pricy and frustrating” for the EPL viewer, is just so such a moot point. It doesn’t change the fact that its on both… as is the case for other entertainment content as well. Content is all over the place.

  155. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 1:56 pm

    @JP Well, see you are bringing up the obvious but also the very selfish viewpoint of only being a soccer fan. I expected this kind of reply.

    The point of all of this is that there is no one size fits all for the broad audience and its pricey and inconvenient for many when they have to subscribe to multiple services to get the content they want.

  156. JP

    December 14, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    @Michael F, “It’s pricy and can be frustrating, but soccer fans have proven they’ll pay out for a myriad of services to watch their favorite team.”

    It’s only pricy and frustrating if you include needing cable for EPL. For all other leagues (lesser leagues according to some :)) it’s very cheap and convenient…at least when Paramount+ isn’t broken for UCL

  157. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Not trying to start a firestorm of commentary here, but a very interesting article from the Athletic on the challenges of transitioning from traditional TV to streaming. Below are excerpt quotes from the article. Whether you are for or against anything, this is legit for the broader audience. There is no one size fits all in a content world transitioning in between.


    “Last week Pittsburgh Penguins fans were properly introduced to one of new caveats of the NHL’s national television deal with ESPN.

    It was a national game against the Washington Capitals, a marquee matchup featuring Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin, and for the first time in Crosby’s respective career, you couldn’t find the game on traditional television, national or local.

    It was aired, of course, but ESPN had tabbed the game as one of its exclusive national games that air on ESPN+ and Hulu. So for many Penguins fans, and the Penguins social media team dragged into the Twitter crossfire, it was a rude awakening as they struggled to find the game through traditional methods.”


    “Internally ESPN and the NHL knew this would happen, they also knew it’s a necessary step as hockey and North American sports take further steps into the future of streaming and game distribution.

    International soccer was effectively the soft launch for all of this in the United States, and hockey is now being used in the same manner for domestic sports leagues in the United States.

    If you are an American-based fan of a team in the English Premier League team and want to truly watch all of a team’s games in a season, you need to subscribe to at least two streaming services (Peacock for Premiership game and ESPN+ for cup competitions) and have a cable subscription with NBC Sports Network and USA. If that team is any good and is playing in European competition, like the Champions League, you need a third streaming service in Paramount+.

    It’s pricy and can be frustrating, but soccer fans have proven they’ll pay out for a myriad of services to watch their favorite team.”

  158. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    @Mercator Good point. And yea, i got the enail notification from YTTV about a possible shut out of Disney channels. YTTV plans to drop the monthly price $15 if it happens. I am sure it will get sorted out soon enough where compromise is made between the two parties.

  159. Mercator

    December 14, 2021 at 11:28 am

    @Michael F – I actually don’t think this is normal, I thought there would only be one ESPN+ game a year starting next year. I think currently it is just because Disney and Youtube TV are fighting and YTTV might lose ESPN on Friday. No way the NFL is going to let ESPN keep the game on ESPN after they blackout millions of YTTV subscribers. The NFL demands a certain reach and if ESPN cable isn’t providing that they will tell Disney to put the games on ABC and ESPN+. The NFL is very good about making sure its fans can actually get access to the matches – it understands its long term viability requires most Americans to be able to easily watch.

  160. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 11:12 am

    @Ra Ah… like the old days… Monday Night Football on ABC with Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith. Now I am dating myself and showing a bit of my age.

  161. dave

    December 14, 2021 at 11:12 am

    It seems the original soccer vs. hockey discussion has become an ESPN vs NBC discussion.
    .
    @Hans raises the key challenge for Peacock, a lack of “must see” original content to drive paying sign-ups to a late entrant in a very crowded market. It is easy to forget on WST, but most Americans spend little time and money on sports, let alone soccer. Dramas, movies, kids’ shows, etc. are what drive large streaming subscriptions. If Peacock target “30-35 million” paying customers, anything they do with EPL is a rounding error on that aspiration.
    .
    ESPN+ has its own problems. It is chronically loss-making with consistently poor ARPU, and much of its subscriber growth comes as a tag-on to its much more popular (Disney+) and profitable (Hulu) siblings. Disney recently decided to cram Disney+ and ESPN+ to all Hulu Live subscribers for $5 per month, which will worsen sub-unit ARPU while peeving some Hulu Live customers. Similar concept as when NBC tried to cram Peacock on to every YTTV subscription.

  162. Ra

    December 14, 2021 at 10:47 am

    I couldn’t help but notice that MNF was also on ABC. So, it is not a big deal afterall. Also, I don’t watch it. But the last 2 F1 races on ESPN+ was (I have F1TV, so it didn’t matter for me. But it may in 2022). BTW, it was robbery at 200 mph. And I don’t think a Energy drink co. has any business in sports, esp. soccer.

  163. Michael F

    December 14, 2021 at 10:07 am

    NFL Monday Night Football airs on ESPN+. That’s awesome. I am happy for the streamers. Good to see.

  164. locofooty

    December 14, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Lou, you’re looking at La Liga coverage from a point of view that it should be on cable/sat and on all the ESPN family of networks. Within ESPN+, coverage is extensive with pre-half-post studio shows with sometimes on site for big matches as well as the commentating crew on site. They give it as much coverage as they can on ESPN+. I am a subscriber and I get all that coverage, so I have no issues at all for all of La Liga being on ESPN+. As far as exposure and ratings and whatever, I could care less. I used to worry about needing validation from others and the matches being widely available on cable, ranting about why they are choosing the strongest man competition over a Champions League match. No longer a problem. The wise words from Ra…sit back and enjoy the status quo of getting so much futbol at $12 a month.

  165. Nosferatu

    December 14, 2021 at 2:12 am

    @Michael, I am a big hockey fan, but I’d be careful with the numbers you’re throwing out about the NHL on ESPN. The numbers were steadily going downhill after opening night, with the last broadcast (back in October) getting only 385,000.

    Meanwhile, an insider from another board I frequent cited information that one of the recent ESPN+ exclusive NHL broadcasts on Black Friday only got 10,000 viewers at every checkpoint (another, featuring the big markets of Chicago and St. Louis, got 180,000, which is certainly more respectable, but this is with no local cable broadcasts, so still not great).

    All I know is that this kind of information leaves me wondering what the numbers might be like for some of the not-so-big La Liga and Bundesliga games–numbers that I’m going to guess are put to shame by even the weaker NBCSN Premier League broadcasts.

  166. Hans

    December 14, 2021 at 12:45 am

    The decisions regarding any financial viability of Peacock is made in Comcast’s power corridors and will be influenced by Wall Street, Hedge Funds and Stock holders. NONE of them are EPL fans all they are interested in is Return Of Investment. WTS has loads of EPL fans which have a dog in this fight and few of them are also aware of the financial angle. Unless Comcast thinks that the expense of the 2.7 billion will eventually grow their profit they may be facing difficulties in explaining this to Wall Street, Hedge Funds and Money men during earnings reports.
    .
    At the end of the 3rd quarter Comcast subsidized Peacock to the tune of $8 per user and all the analysts agree unless there is COMPELLING original content on Peacock it will only see trickle growth. For me it is a must subscribe as it has what I want all the Rugby that is of interest to me.
    .
    The advantage in making the delivery of sports content is with Disney because the outgoing CEO, who was a sports fan has been replaced by a new CEO who has no interest in sports unless it grows the Disney brand and increases their subscribers plus profits. Comcast is not in that same position as they are primarily an Internet Service Provider.
    .
    Just added to this is Disney’s fantastic opportunity to produce compelling original content, since they bought FOX in 2018, rumor has it that Disney is in early development on a Firefly reboot which has a dedicated cult following.

  167. Ra

    December 13, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    Very good article – https //www.sportico.com/business/media/2021/espn-survives-cord-cutting-1234648317/amp/

    “As the media ecosystem splinters, there is an increasing need for rights owners to place live game content in more places. Burke Magnus (president, programming and original content, ESPN) explained that leagues today must “be able to reach sports fans in multiple different ways, across platforms and technologies, to have a fighting chance to capture everybody, much less grow a fan base.”

    ESPN has done a particularly good job of developing the various distribution channels needed to reach a wide array of demographics. “If you consider the big tent poles to be [a] broadcast network, a fully distributed cable network—or networks, in our case—digital and social traffic and reach, and a meaningful direct-to-consumer product, we have all of [them. And] our competitors have a major weakness in [at least] one of those areas,” Magnus pointed out. For reference purposes, ESPN digital generated a record 120 million unique visitors in October.”

  168. Mercator

    December 13, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    @Lou – Funny because last year NBC said Peacock would have 30-35 million subscribers by 2024, now its 2025. I’m sure next year it will be 2026, and NBC still won’t release any subscriber numbers because obviously they are not on track. FWIW, Peacock has said it has something like 55 million “sign-ups” which includes the free tier, and also said it has something like 20 million active members. Read between the lines and it’s pretty obvious not even half of the people who signed up for peacock are still using it (because its not very good), and most Peacock members are on the free tier which does not have EPL in any case. I would bet half of those who are paying are getting it free though Xfinity, but NBC is still saying average revenue per user will be $6-7 bucks. Cable subscribers are closer to 75 million now, 8 million subscribers were lost in the last year. Extrapolate that trend out until 2026 and less than a quarter of the country will have a cable package necessary to view the EPL. Its troubling for the league and the game itself for the EPL to be stuck with a broadcaster that 1. has no other compelling sports content to bring in new sports fans, 2. has a failing streaming app despised by many consumers with few actual subscribers, and 3. seems to be relying on a rapidly declining medium, which doesn’t reach most American households at this point, to distribute most matches.

    Peacock is guaranteed to fail as is, its performance to date is evidence of that. The question is if NBC will actually start adding content to Peacock to try to correct the abysmal failure. I hope this is the case and NBC at least puts all the EPL games on Peacock, but It’s a delicate question. Double down on the failing streaming app at the expense of your actually profitable cable businesses, or cut your losses entirely and have no streaming service like Fox. We may see in a year or two – NBC will have an opportunity to bring its content on HULU onto Peacock exclusively. They may not want to do this though, they get plenty of money selling the rights to others and putting that content on Peacock exclusively may just kill it off. Look at the office, huge hit for Netflix, and then does terribly once it is on Peacock exclusively.

  169. Lou

    December 13, 2021 at 7:25 pm

    NBC is predicting 30-35 million Peacock subscribers by 2025, couple that with USA Network available to over 90 million cable subscribers and the stellar ratings for the weekly EPL game on the NBC network, then you can understand why they were more then happy to drop $2.7B for the worlds most popular and viewed soccer league. The future is indeed is bright for NBC and the EPL in the US. I still remain underwhelmed by ESPN’s coverage of LaLiga. When they acquired LaLiga rights, I expected a flashy new studio show and analysts. Instead they rolled out the ESPN FC crew (who I like) from Bristol and a couple of new Spanish analysts. My point is why not go all out with your new toy to make it a distinctive showcase from your other soccer properties? LaLiga lags far behind the EPL in popularity in the US and I thought ESPN missed an opportunity to give it more exposure by broadcasting the El Classico on ESPN+ only. There may have been program scheduling reasons, but would have loved to seen it aired on ABC or ESPN.

  170. Mercator

    December 13, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    @Greg – Very interesting discussion and I agree, ESPN has gotten MORE valuable in the streaming age, not less. In the cable world I really wouldn’t care who got the rights as long as they were in my cable package. Now, I want rights to go to ESPN, if only for the multicast and the fact that I already subscribe. It’s really changed my viewing habits – I never watched UFC, F1, non-playoff hockey or things like that, but now I will if there is nothing else on, just because its on ESPN+. Hopefully MLS keeps this in mind when looking at a new rights package – almost all the MLS games I watch are on ESPN+, I don’t think I would bother if it were on another provider. This is also why NBC is so terrible – they only have the Olympics and EPL. It’s not at all a destination or even a place to check for most sports fans.

    @Hans – I don’t think ESPN will ever really put ESPN/ESPN 2 feed on ESPN+. Why would they? They can simply shift more content over to ESPN+ and still simulcast it on TV. I don’t think there will be a point where ESPN or ESPN 2 goes OTT, I think they will just slowly shift more marquee events (like Monday Night Football) to ESPN+. There are probably 20 million boomers out there happy to pay $100+ a month for cable even if it has the exact same stuff as ESPN+ because they can’t/won’t figure out how to use a new remote – and their money is as green as ours! I think Disney will also try to limit price increases on the bundle while raising standalone prices, so ESPN+ will probably get a ton of new subscribers from people who already subscribe to Hulu/Disney+ and decide to go for the bundle. I basically cannot get rid of ESPN+ at this point because the bundle is so cost effective and the family will not let me cut Disney+ or Hulu. Disney, Amazon, Disney and Netflix are the keepers usually and the rest are optional. Not sure how Peacock makes it in this market – they are joking if they think EPL will keep it afloat.

  171. UnitedFan 3478

    December 13, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    If NBC have no interest in acquiring the MLS Rights, does that mean CBS will get the whole package? I do not expect ESPN or Fox to renew, because ESPN did not do a good job covering the MLS Cup final, and Fox only cares about national teams also expect Telemundo to replace Univision and TUDN.
    Perhaps games will be on Paramount+ if RSNs go away.

  172. Hans

    December 13, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    @Michael
    We seem to be reading the same articles but just to add to your comment:
    .
    Would one of cable’s most in-demand networks ever think of skipping the middle man and going direct to consumer?
    .
    “ESPN+ reached 17.1 million subscribers as of last month and the platform has steadily grown since its launch in 2018. ESPN+ is home to a wide variety of live sports content, ESPN-themed studio shows, documentaries, and more. Disney has also said it will invest in streaming throughout 2022 and beyond, meaning we could see even more from ESPN+ moving forward.”
    .
    “ESPN’s 76 million linear subscribers dwarf the 17.1 million ESPN+ subscribers, but that number could change over the next few years. Axios says ESPN, “probably won’t consider a direct-to-consumer service until the pay-TV bundle falls below 50 million U.S. households, which could happen in the next five years (according to CNBC). If ESPN lost 8 million cable subscribers per year (the drop from 2020’s fiscal year total of 84 million compared to the most recent numbers), they’d be under that 50 million number by 2025.”
    .
    Short answer DTC could happen, but not that soon.

  173. Michael

    December 13, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    @Ra with the new TV rights deal for the NFL they are putting one MNF games on ESPN+ year. There was a multicast alternate “Mannings” one on earlier this year as well. I think this contract is for 10 years, so I don’t think it is any “testing of the waters,” but by giving a few of the mainline sports like this as as inventory has been one of the reason why ESPN+ has grown so fast. I agree, have the Disney+/ESPN+/HULU bundle ($13.99) as my “Cable” and I start my day by opening up HULU rarely leave it for the rest of the day. The only time I leave that is to get on Disney+ or If there is a game on ABC. With AT&T Fiber I get ESPN3 for free so I would have to actually access the ESPN App to get to ESPN3. They have been smart with their strategy. For instance the Big 12 Conference has sold their Tier3 games for Football, Basketball, and Baseball ESPN+ instead of building a B12 Network like the other Power 5 conferences have. Every team is guaranteed at least 1 game on there during football season and there are more games on weekly during basketball and practically all of the Baseball games that aren’t on Fox or ESPN. They have done the same thing with SEC, and will increase in 2024. With all of these leagues they will never put all the products on ESPN+ because Cable is still their bread and butter. The leaders said that they won’t even consider taking ESPN as OTT until the Markets goes below 50% of households having cable, and then it would cost about $30-40 a months before the addition ESPN+ is added on. That is decades away. ESPN+ is already up to 17 million subscribers. If you read the business journals it is their opinion that as the people continue to cut cable’s ESPN’s value is actually increasing as they become a bigger power in rights because the competition shrinks. When Disney first came out with their goal of 25 millions subscribers for ESPN+, I thought they were crazy…but now, not only do I see that they are not crazy, but they are going to go over that. Bundesliga and La Liga are happy with them. NHL came back and they are getting 750,000 for some of there middle of the weeks games. That is better than they did back in the day when they were on the ESPN cable channel. MLB is cutting back to just Sunday Night Baseball on the cable channel, but they up with MLB.tv that you can get directly through ESPN+ and never have to leave the app. I am a La Liga fans so I would watch all those games anyway even on beIN Sports…but since I am in ESPN+ I am catching a lot of Bundesliga too and I am happy with the product.

  174. Hans

    December 13, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    Looks like the usual suspects are at commenting here 😆 let me chime in also.
    .
    Just read a Bloomberg article “How Soccer Became Every Streaming Service’s Favorite Sport” which discusses all the major players in the soccer streaming world plus a quote from our own Christopher.
    .
    “More than a dozen companies have expressed interest in acquiring the rights, including tech giants like Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. and traditional media companies like AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.”
    .
    “The audience for the average MLS match does not compare to professional baseball, basketball or hockey (to say nothing of football). But soccer’s popularity is growing, and it has a young, digital-savvy global fan base.”
    .
    “Being easy to stream soccer appears to have helped grow the sport. MLS saw the biggest increase in popularity among sports viewers, going from the 13th most popular league in 2019 to 7th in 2021, according to a survey done for MoffettNathanson.”
    .
    Plus a quote in that article from Christopher:
    .
    “But for many soccer fans, the benefits of streaming have outweighed the hassle, according to Christopher Harris, publisher of World Soccer Talk. On a typical Saturday, fans have live access to more than 75 professional soccer games, with many available only on streaming services.
    .
    “We now have access to more games around the world than ever before,” he said. “It really is a dream come true.””
    .
    To state the obvious it is no longer which league is the biggest, best or more popular one, it is which games are easiest to find on your setup and with 75 games available on a weekend the EPL is just one of them, granted for some a must watch for others not so much if you have to jump through hoops to get it on the big screen.

  175. Mercator

    December 13, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    @Ra – Yes but I think EPL just has cultural cache that will be hard to overcome. Check twitter on a Saturday AM and everything trending is EPL, you don’t even see Madrid Barca usually. All my more casual friends who bring up La Liga in GC get a bunch of responses about Arsenal and Chelsea – so the broadcast may push new fans one way but the general Zeitgeist is still moving for the EPL. NBC will simply end up handicapping the EPL in the US – the leap from casual interest to an actual fan will never be made because it costs $40+ to watch the EPL and that basically excludes everyone under 35 who isn’t already a fan or cable subscriber. If it cost me $40+ to watch the F1 race this week… I never would have watched and I wouldn’t have cared and I would have gone on with my life. I wouldn’t still be arguing with my friends about Masi. EPL will always be popular, but sticking it behind a cable paywall and streaming it only on a terrible app with very few subscribers, at a critical time for the growth of football in the US with the WC approaching … its giving an opening to other leagues and sports in this country when EPL could easily corner the market if they had a growth oriented broadcaster instead of one determined to make their inflated purchase price back. It’s not all bad though – the more I push Arsenal the more stupid memes I get when they bottle it, so maybe its for the best NBC isn’t bringing in many new fans who would probably support City or Chelsea.

    That said, NBC seems to have improved a bit. Woke up quite early Saturday and saw Carragher of all people (in a ridiculous Michelin Man jacket) on NBCSN just before PL morning started. It looks like they do bring over some sky content and air it before the start of PL mornings, not sure if this is new or if I just haven’t paid attention to NBCSN at 5:30am before. With NBCSN going away, its not clear where they will put the Sky Sports News simulcast. This is free to watch on YouTube outside the US, so I have to think they put it on Peacock. I also still think they have to include a cable login for Peacock soon – they cannot be stupid enough to continue to neglect this. I actually don’t have a good sense of what is on ESPN+ v. Cable because the ESPN App has a cable login and I do all my watching through the app. Beyond me why NBC would not want to do this and instead tell you to go to the YTTV app or whatever to watch – just a poorly run company in many respects. It’s clear they don’t have a direction in mind and are grasping to try to get Peacock to launch. Hopefully this means they may backtrack at some point and throw all the EPL games on Peacock out of desperation. Maybe then I would tell my group chat friends to subscribe to Peacock instead of teaching them how to pirate the matches.

  176. Ra

    December 13, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    @Mercator That is exactly my point. We are creatures of habit. The first thing I do when I turn on my TV is to open the ESPN app and then I go from there. Depending on the time/day, I will also open Paramount+. There is always something interesting to watch. That is not the case with Peacock. There are some other sports properties there, but nothing remarkable (I heard their rugby is good, but I never followed any). ESPN+ is the clear top choice for a streamer.
    And then, when you see the percentage of people canceling their cable and extrapolate that for the next 6 years, it is by no means a given that EPL will always be the most popular if people don’t have easy means to do so.
    Having access to both ESPN+ and Peacock (got the $2.5 promo, but already regretted based on the minutes I’ve been watching it), I spend at least 3 times more minutes watching LaLiga than EPL.
    And I did not enjoy much the Tory atmosphere of NBC’s coverage.

  177. JP

    December 13, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    @Ra, wow you are correct, MNF on ESPN+! That is a very big deal. With no hockey tonight (one game that was scheduled cancelled because of a Covid outbreak) might actually watch MNF for the 1st time in a few years when my team not involved. Very good matchup too with Rams and Cardinals. So F1 on ESPN+ it’s final two races, MNF tonight….yes they seem to be testing the waters big time. Also, aside from opening night of NHL, so far all their exclusive games have been ESPN+ only and not even on cable (1st night was simulcast on both),

  178. Mercator

    December 13, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    @SteveK – Because the stream costs $5 dollars which really isn’t much of a barrier to new fans. Very different from putting everything on Cable, which is 8-10x more expensive and requires you to deal with a third party. I think Ra is right it will gain them ground on the EPL, but obviously EPL will remain far and away the most popular for sometime to come. NBC has hit a plateau though, they really haven’t grown their numbers the last few years and I suspect that is because they have largely tapped out the pool of cable subscribers they reached so well in the years after 2013. They are not trying to build the fansbase or sport like ESPN is doing with La Liga or F1, NBC is trying to monetize the league by limiting it to people who are already fans and charging them the max to watch.

    I think the best example I can give is my friends in group chat. The ones who are not already big football fans ask and start chats about La Liga, not the EPL. Because it is on ESPN+ and everyone knows Madrid and Barca. Your habits are no doubt different, but hanging with a bunch of late 20- early 30 guys, ESPN is the default to watch. NBC is the last place any of these guys are looking because they basically have no other sports. On a Saturday morning, most of us are flipping through the ESPN app, not channel surfing USA or TNT or whatever. It would be better obviously to have games on both, but in terms of access and attracting new fans, it’s hard to beat ESPN+ which is cheap and most younger sports fans have for CFB, Hockey or UFC (nevermind the football). F1 race this weekend, everyone in GC was talking about it and none of us are really F1 fans – why? Because it’s on ESPN+ so everyone can easily watch, the ESPN app is sending us all reminders to watch, when we watch First Take or some NBA game on ESPN, sitting in the bottom corner is a F1 promo.

    In terms of marketing, branding talent, etc. I think the EPL is clearly more compelling, but they are working uphill given their chosen broadcaster. If the aim or intent is to grow the league, then ESPN+ offers a better platform for that even absent TV games. Its also reaches a much better demographic than cable generally: the fans are younger and more interested in sport. Again, there is a reason why F1 for example gave their rights away to ESPN instead of taking money from NBC – and that decision seems to have paid off bigly in only one year. This isn’t NBC’s fault – it simply not a serious name in sports for the younger crowd and does not set the sport agenda or discussion in the country the way ESPN does.

  179. Ra

    December 13, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Bad timing. I don’t want to waste my time pointing the inconsistencies in the fallacious comparisons (OTA vs cable properties) but Monday Night Football today will be streamed on ESPN+. They seem to be testing the waters.

  180. Michael

    December 13, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    @Greg. I am a La Liga fan and I love it on ESPN+. It acknowledge that they will never be on OTA except for every Blue Moon…and I don’t care.. Soccer on streaming systems makes the companies money…soccer on OTA doesn’t. Disney makes $8.00 per customer to divide across 16 cable channels. ESPN+ gets $7.00 per customer and not only do they not have to split it 16 ways, they have 1/10 the amount of royalty. If you pay for all the royalties combined on ESPN+ it wouldn’t add up to what they pay for NFL Monday Night football every year. I am not sure how Paramount works, so I can’t comment…but I am sure they are making a profit off their stream service as well. Even NBC that puts their games on OTA are not making money off them the on air games. I am not a gambling man…but if I were I would guess that 65% -75% of the EPL games will be on Peacock and the USA and NBC games will be more MNF or the “Game of the week.” There was a great article that quote Chris that was on Bloomberg. US TV is going to go more and more to mainstream sports, and the streaming will go more and more to the niche sports like Soccer and I am 100% Cool with that. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-12-12/mls-playoffs-set-up-the-league-for-a-big-payday-from-streaming-services?sref=TXtONuyU

  181. greg

    December 13, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    @SteveK, re: this:
    “Why isn’t being shunted wholesale onto a streamer with no ABC or ESPN presence seen as a huge negative? Why isn’t there a weekly La Liga early morning game on ESPN Saturday or Sunday after just committing 1.4 billion dollars to it? But hey, at least you can console yourselves all those La Liga soccer games are easy to find in one place.”

    Seriously, it’s been covered to death as to why – they did an ABC match in the 1st week to show off, but on weekends in the fall the NFL & college football are #1 by a mile on ESPN and nothing will change that. ABC can only do so much on weekend mornings given education & pubic affairs programming. Let’s see what happens from January to May, when it’s really just college basketball that will compete for time on the ESPN channels.

  182. SteveK

    December 13, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Michael F, for some time I’ve wondered if Disney and ESPN treat most things on ESPN+ like a step child–why aren’t more people wondering if ESPN+ is so valuable why aren’t more of Disney’s prominent and expensive sports properties also being streamed on ESPN+? Monday Night Football is not simulcast on ESPN+ whereas NBC’s Sunday Night Football is simulcast on Peacock. NBC’s prominent Saturday Premier League match is simulcast on Peacock. Does anyone know if the weekly La Liga games on ABC and ESPN are simulcast on ESPN+ oh wait, there are no weekly La Liga games on ABC or ESPN? What kind of strategy is that?

    “ESPN is pushing really hard for LaLiga”

    They are locked into $175 million per year for the next 8 years…but all the games and all the shows that talk about those games like ESPN FC are on a streaming platform ESPN+ that has lots other things on it, including another whole Euro soccer league. And major sports properties that Disney and ESPN have invested in like SEC and ACC college football and that might bring new eyes to ESPN+ ARE NOT on that streamer but instead are on network and cable exclusively. Why did Disney just go out of their way to sign a multi-year carriage deal with Comcast ensuring that many of their best properties will be shown by Comcast for years to come?

    Why isn’t being shunted wholesale onto a streamer with no ABC or ESPN presence seen as a huge negative? Why isn’t there a weekly La Liga early morning game on ESPN Saturday or Sunday after just committing 1.4 billion dollars to it? But hey, at least you can console yourselves all those La Liga soccer games are easy to find in one place.

    Does anyone here seriously think that La Liga being exclusively on ESPN+ and being pushed real hard by ESPN will gain ground on the Premier League with its massive lead in global rights fees? That those rights fees will not allow the PL not only to maintain its position but to attract even better players and coaches over the near term? And it will be those increasingly good players and coaches that will draw more eyes, both young and old, to it?

    I guess it is easier to complain about the PL being on NBC, USA and Peacock.

  183. Michael F

    December 13, 2021 at 9:58 am

    @Christopher Harris Thanks for confirming that as I also hadn’t seen any such possibility that NBC would be interested in acquiring MLS.

    And based on comment posts above, it looks like ESPN is not interested in the MLS either (smile). That’s “ESPN’s power” at work… as @Ra put it. Treat the sport it carries like a step child. Having some fun there.

  184. Michael

    December 12, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    @Giovanni I could care less about the rest of the world or what they prefer 🙂 I live in the United States.
    Cheers.

  185. UnitedFan 3478

    December 12, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    Something tells me NBC and Telemundo will get the MLS TV Rights in 2022. Look at how ABC cared about College Basketball over the MLS Cup.

    • Christopher Harris

      December 13, 2021 at 9:33 am

      NBC Sports have no interest in acquiring rights to MLS.

  186. Michael F

    December 12, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Correction on last sentence from previous post: ‘suggestive’ should be ‘suggested’ (smile).

  187. Michael F

    December 12, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    And will the NHL skyrocket in popularity than what it’s been over the years just because ESPN is now the primary carrier of its league??

    I could put a lot of money on it that it won’t. NBC dropped it knowing that hockey has only so much growth potential in the States. And NBC did a great job with the NHL over the years.

  188. Michael F

    December 12, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    @Ra. I think you are putting way too much weight into a provider, when it really comes down to where the content is that people will go and watch. As an example, the UCL is very popular and people will subscribe to Paramount+ (despite the seemingly weekly issues they have that have ticked off viewers)… because, we’ll… it’s the Champions League.

    Same is true for the English Premier League. And most viewers are very happy with NBC’s coverage of its league. I don’t see any proof whatsoever that LaLiga can take over the EPL in popularity here in the States just because it’s carrier ESPN is promoting it. That’s a very weak suggestive argument.

  189. Ra

    December 12, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    @Michael F. I am not a fan of either one. But I wouldn’t dismiss ESPN’s power so easily. I am curious to see viewership numbers of the race today. It seems to have grown 400%+ in a couple of years. LaLiga has 2 of the most popular soccer clubs in the US and EPL seems to have reached a plateau with NBC. And the cable audience is not getting any younger…

  190. Michael F

    December 12, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    @Ra Answer to your question: Not a chance. Only a hopeful from your perspective only.

  191. Ra

    December 12, 2021 at 10:19 am

    ESPN is pushing really hard for LaLiga. Obviously, they want to make it more popular in the US than EPL. Will they succeed? The next 6 years will tell, but I wouldn’t doubt it. It is certainly far easier to watch LaLiga than EPL..

  192. Roberto

    December 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I was for Portland until the bottles flew out of the stands. Very poor for a place that calls itself america’s soccer city.

  193. locofooty

    December 11, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    ABC went to commercials and completely missed the national anthem. Horrible pre-match coverage for it being the championship match.

  194. locofooty

    December 11, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    3:17 pm and coverage that was supposed to start at 3:00 on ABC has just begun. The ESPN+ pregame got cut at 3:00 so there was no coverage for those 15+ mins. Big problem when American sports are scheduled before futbol and they evidently will always run longer than the allotted time.

  195. Mercator

    December 11, 2021 at 11:54 am

    https:// www. dailymail. co. uk/sport/sportsnews/article-10253507/Soccer-overtaken-ice-hockey-fourth-popular-sport-US.html

    For what it’s worth, their other headline article is about NYCFC and City Football Group conquering America this afternoon :/

  196. Ra

    December 11, 2021 at 7:25 am

    I am not sure Liga MX interests non-Mexican Latinos…

  197. Giovanni

    December 11, 2021 at 5:49 am

    Michael when it comes to the world’s stage EPL is more popular than Liga MX maybe in Latin America but in the rest of the world is not

  198. Roberto

    December 10, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    @Ra: Answering you question about why is not easy but I will give it a try. Football has been my favorite sport for 50 years. Back in the 70s the first football on TV that I was aware of was “Soccer Made in Germany”, that got me interested in the Bundesliga. Also at about this time the Seattle Sounders joined the NASL. Several of us from the Rec league team* became season ticket holders.
    These original Sounders were a competitive team and over the years all the greats came to town, sure they were mostly past it but it made for great memories. These teams were required to have two American/Canadian players. At least it was the start of a domestic league.
    The MLS over the years is getting better but they are deathly afraid of the fall of the NASL due to over spending, poor Management and a lack of American players. Now many teams have academies. although too many players are developed and lost to Europe. This will change and hopefully the money spent on DPs will be spread over the rest of the team.
    This is getting too long but the U.S. is the only country where so many other countries leagues are available and the domestic league is not most people’s choice. What is said is other countries play better football. Well it is true you usually get what you pay for. Man. U and Barca’s payroll probably is equal to about ten MLS teams. So, lots of money does not always = better football but it sure helps. If the owners, spend more money like it was mentioned above we will see better football.
    Lastly, I am not a nationalist and will skip the despot world cup but a domestic league is usually the key to a competitive national team.
    So, Ra I am sure this did not change your mind, you can and will watch the leagues/games you enjoy but a strong domestic league is important for building football in the U.S.
    *I played Rec league from age 27 to 46, sure wish I was in my town when I was young!

  199. Ra

    December 10, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    I am one example of target group uninterested in MLS. I follow a lot of soccer, and it is already hard for me to follow everything I want.
    I have no interest in MLS. Cup final? No thanks.
    So – why would I care? What are the compelling reasons for me to follow MLS? I don’t think this question was ever properly addressed. It is an uphill battle – there is already an overabundance of soccer.
    The lack of relegation, ownership structure and the large number of teams make it even harder.

  200. dave

    December 10, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    @Michael and others raise good points about Hispanics and Liga MX. A majority of soccer viewing in the US is in Spanish. Some data:
    .
    * The 2018 Nielsen study suggests Hispanics account for 68% of soccer minutes viewed in the US (12% of minutes viewed in the US for sports other than soccer)
    * The same study suggests 94% of Hispanic soccer viewers in the US typically watch in Spanish
    * Univision claim as of October 2021 that 57% of soccer minutes watched in the US are on their network (they often count TUDN and UniMas in their statistics)
    * Univision claim market research shows 90% of Hispanic soccer fans and 65% (!) of non-Hispanic soccer fans prefer to watch in Spanish
    * Univision claim a very successful 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup on their networks (final watched by 5.7 million, average game watched by 1.4 million, ~50% age 18-49)
    .
    It is reasonable to hypothesize that English soccer viewers and Spanish soccer viewers have some common interests and some divergent interests. With Spanish soccer viewers being the majority, their preferences and habits are core to assessing “popularity” and “attention”

  201. El Jefe

    December 10, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    The problem with soccer fandom in America is it is all chopped up in to three pieces: Liga MX fans, EPL/ Euro fans, and MLS fans. And there is definitely some bit of crossover but you would be surprised how many of my fellow soccer fans I know scoff at the other leagues they don’t follow. I have friends that loose their crap if I even mention “MLS”. For sure MLS would be bigger than NHL if all soccer fans in this country followed MLS in my opinion. MLS needs to do a better job of marketing to more than just Urban SJW communist hipster types and upper middle class suburban soccer mom families. If they can bring in more Mexican fans, African Americans, and redneck joe six pack types the sky is the limit for the league.

  202. Azer

    December 10, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I’d like to see a soccer talk show on TV with highlights, discussion, debate, etc, possibly during the morning hours to compete with shows like First Take, Get Up, Skip & Shannon Undisputed. Those shows I listed don’t have any soccer discussion, zero. I wonder if a talk show all about soccer would succeed. There is ESPNFC but it’s only online. What do you guys think? Good Idea? Bad Idea?

  203. Michael

    December 10, 2021 at 11:47 am

    @Giovanni. No, sorry. Liga MX is more popular than EPL in the United States not matter how you spin it or how you try to rationalize it. There are millions of Americans that Liga MX is national league of their ancestors. In this same way that most English speaking US Soccer fans (myself not included) looks to the EPL because that is the soccer team from the country of their ancestors…that is the same thing with Liga MX. The reason that people struggle to accept that is that the games are in Spanish. As of the last census there were 41.8 million Spanish speaking people in this country…not counting the millions more who don’t speak Spanish but they are still Latino in heritage. Those are millions more. Now, I understand that not all Spanish speaking people have Mexican heritage…but a large portion of them do, they are die hard with their Liga Mx. Now they also watch EPL , La Liga, Bundesliga, etc….but their passion will always be Liga MX. I don’t speak Spanish all that well, but I love watching the matches. Univision & UniMas is free over the air for every household who has an antenna, and easy to access.

  204. JP

    December 10, 2021 at 11:14 am

    @Giovanni, of course we’ll never know, but I’d contend EPL ratings would be lower if it didn’t have those time slots mostly to itself. Would be more potential viewers late afternoon and night, but would also face much more competition in terms of viewing options. Possibly works out to a wash in the end.

    Would be a fun experiment that’s unfortunately impossible to test in our connected world. Only way would be to have EPL on tape delay for a few weekends (shown late afternoon and primetime) and somehow suppress all info about how the matches played out earlier.

  205. Giovanni

    December 10, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Michael you can’t compare the EPL time slot to the Liga MX time slot EPL matches is in the morning and early afternoon, Liga MX matches is on late afternoon and on Primetime of course is going to get higher tv ratings

  206. Mercator

    December 9, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    @Dave – The 2020 numbers for Mexico and brazil seem odd, surprised the NBA would have more interest than NFL or any of the European leagues. The 2021 numbers seem much more in line with Gallup. In terms of measuring actual popularity I just don’t think revenues or TV ratings really capture fans of the sport – a lot of this is social. I don’t watch the Stanley Cup or go to baseball games because I’m a fan of either sport – its a work, family or community obligation.

    If you check google trends over the last year, the 5 sports pulled the following averages: Hockey 3, Soccer 7, Baseball 9, Basketball 16 and Football 32. Not really out of line with Gallup or the 2021 numbers. The state by state maps show how regional Hockey is compared to the other 4 sports and there are some cool top searches showing how popular college sports are generally (even in baseball and soccer) and how popular El Tri is relatively with the top 2 related searches in the US for “Soccer” being “Mexico” and “Mexico Soccer.” You can play with the search terms and comparisons, but everyone is googling and this may give you a better indication of general interest than revenues or cable TV numbers. I don’t think half of Americans have cable anymore, or hundreds of dollars to drop on tickets and parking to any game in a major US league. There are many soccer fans who are better off, the club soccer EPL fan sort, but this really isn’t really the bulk of soccer fans in the country. A good number of soccer fans are young, not as wealthy, Spanish speaking, etc and these fans basically are ignored and discounted by the general sports landscape (just look at attention on EPL v Liga MX despite the TV numbers). This is why it’s so disastrous what the MLS is going in the NY market – media and business priorities are not set by people living Kansas City or Columbus. The corrupt celebrity run team in Miami is a good start, but they need to fix the NY market if they actually want to be considered a big 5 sport.

  207. Jack

    December 9, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    I like Hockey, NFL Football and Soccer so I hate it when I read articles bashing Hockey or Soccer respectively especially when you’re comparing a League (NHL) vs a Sport (EPL, La Liga, UEFA CL, MLS, International Soccer). Micro vs Macro.

    One thing NHL has over Soccer in America is that the best players in the world come to North America which is not the case for MLS and likely won’t be in my lifetime.

  208. Edwin

    December 9, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    “As stated above, European leagues also rake in consistently large numbers.”
    Those leagues have devout fanbases stateside.

    I really get tired of the over generalization here. That statement is just plain out false and is just the continued presumptuous attitudes that soccer fans here in the US of the European game have.

    Kyle says European Leagues are consistently raking in larger numbers. No this is false he should just replace European Leagues with EPL. Those leagues outside of EPL all have smaller fanbases than MLS. Heck there was even the study Kartik did a article on last month saying MLS even had a larger fanbase than EPL spread out across 27 markets but EPL fans were more hardcore. That bears out in TV ratings. The other European leagues have smaller followings and thus have had historically smaller TV ratings on US TV than MLS.

    This over generalization of Europe vs MLS is always done to minimize MLS popularity it makes no sense when only 1 out of 5 of the Big European leagues are more popular than MLS why just not say that? Thats a more representative and true statement than just using a TON of liberty and using EPL having more popularity and then erroneously using EPL having more popularity to falsely claim the other 4 leagues are more popular when they just aren’t.

    “As stated above, European leagues also rake in consistently large numbers.”

  209. Ra

    December 9, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    @dave Very interesting research. What surprised me is that most top soccer nations have average soccer % watching in the mid-50%s. (BR: 58%, ES: 55%, AR/DE: 54%, IT:51%). It is interesting to see that the interest in the UK (43%) and FR (26%) is low compared to these countries. I wonder if the high prices charged in the UK resulted in a drop in general interest. Regarding France, I have no idea. Does anyone have a clue why they would rank so low in interest (especially considering they won a WC recently).

  210. Michael F

    December 9, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    @Chris Try reading the article before strongly disagreeing with it. The author made it perfectly clear and stated repeatedly he was talking soccer as a sport (not just MLS) being ranked the 4th most popular in the US.

  211. dave

    December 9, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    The 2021 Global Sports Survey has data by sport rather than by league: https://www.altmansolon.com/insights/global-sports-great-comeback-means-opportunities-for-leagues-clubs-investors/
    .
    The survey tracks “% of monthly sports viewers” by sport. Among US respondents:
    .
    * Football (33%) is a clear #1
    * Baseball (17%) and basketball (15%) are a close #2 and #3
    * Soccer (7%) is #4
    * Hockey (4%) is #5
    .
    It is survey data, there are caveats, take it with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, an interesting additional data point.

  212. Mercator

    December 9, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    @Turfit – Gallup has the numbers for almost all sports, in 2017 they show 7% having soccer as their favourite sport and 4% for ice hockey. Soccer is the pretty clear 4th, and closer to baseball (9%) than hockey is to soccer. The numbers also go back to 1960 – Hockey has never eclipsed 5%. It shouldn’t be surprising – again how many people do you know in warmer climates who play hockey or even know the rules well? It’s very low, it’s nothing like Football, Baseball, Basketball or Soccer where broad groups of Americans regularly play the game.

    Revenue is also not a decent proxy for popularity. Baseball for example brings in huge revenues relative to its popularity – its big in expensive (northeast) markets and its fans are mostly 60+ with a lifetime to build wealth. I was chatting with the plumber who came today about Messi stealing his Ballon D’or and the guy is a huge fan but obviously never watches champions league because he is working! He doesn’t pay for cable, I’m sure he is not spending $100 to see an MLS game either. But I guarantee you he knows more about soccer generally than half the hockey fans in any given southern arena (I love live Hockey games they are a blast – but that doesn’t make me a fan of the sport per se).

  213. dave

    December 9, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Another source a few of us discussed previously (survey data, take with a grain of salt) is the 2020 Global Sports Survey by Altman Solon: https://www.altmansolon.com/insights/us-euro-sports-survey-spotlight/
    .
    * Among surveyed US sports viewers, 58% are interested in MLB, 39% are interested in NHL, 23% are interested in MLS, around 15%-20% are interested in each major European soccer league
    .
    * Among US respondents, soccer leagues are much more popular with 18-24 years old than with 55+ years old
    .
    * When asked for “favorite sports leagues/tournaments”, US respondents rate MLB #2, NHL #8, World Cup #9 (highest soccer on the list), USWNT #14, and UCL #15
    .
    Of note, “interested” and “favorite” are subjective and also may not well bracket the depth and breadth that drive attendance and viewership. I believe @greg previously noted several other good caveats about this particular survey

  214. Michael

    December 9, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    @dave That is correct. We need to compare apples to apples. If we are comparing NHL to MLS, hands down NHL blows MLS away with $4B to $1B. If we ask Hockey vs Soccer that is a much more fair question. In the US Baseball and Soccer are not even in the same stratisphere so we can leave that out of the comparison. MLB is a $10 B a year enterprise. You can compare EPL to MLB financially…But in the US Baseball is still the national pastime. I grew in in the Midwest where NHL a big deal. Blackhawks vs Redwings or North Starts would get a huge rating in addition to a sold out stadium. My ex used to live in St Louis which was considered a “soccer” town and I agree you did see soccer fields in every lot and there were kids all over playing it…but still even in a soccer town 22,000 would attend the St Louis Blues game every night, and if the Cardinals were playing on a Saturday all the attention would be shifted to them.

  215. Turfit

    December 9, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    @Mercator , the “Save the Rampage” campaign failed at keeping San Antonio’s hockey team in San Antonio, the team moved to Nevada.

  216. Turfit

    December 9, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Did the Gallap source even include Hockey in their stats?? I could not find any mentions of hockey in the article.

  217. dave

    December 9, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting article and discussion. Commenters raise fair areas for potential exploration, particularly regional impacts and leagues vs. sports. One thing I consistently see across sources, including this article, is that soccer fans in the US skew young and Hispanic relative to all US sports fans.
    .
    Thanks also to @Chris for linking the Chris Deubert article containing interesting data and analysis about business models for US sports leagues. As others mention, “is MLS ahead of NHL” (almost certainly not) and “is soccer ahead of hockey” (plausible, but with caveats) are different questions

  218. Mercator

    December 9, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Soccer is easily the 4th most popular sport in the US. Hockey is not that big outside of a few cities, and even in those cities Hockey doesn’t top US Football or Baseball. The Stanley Cup has nothing to do with Hockey popularity, in the same way USMNT/USWNT world cup numbers are not really a reflection of Soccer’s real popularity – it’s just a social event. Put those numbers aside (or compare them to World Cup viewers which is more apt than the MLS final), and it’s pretty clear soccer is well head of Hockey, and probably head of baseball if you exclude social security recipients.

    People confuse support for the local team with support of the sport generally, and soccer suffers here because the main vehicle for the sport is actually not through your city’s team, unlike the other 4 sports.But I also do not think Hockey is like the other sports, we say baseball is regional but ice hockey is obviously much much more regional. It’s an absolute non-factor in huge parts of the country. Even in places like Tampa, where it has seen popularity increase … t’s just not sort of committed fandom you see in the other sports. Minor league baseball is well attended, amateur (college) football and basketball are huge businesses. Even Soccer, despite the limited popularity and abundance of international leagues, has a solid SECOND domestic division. You don’t see this level of support for the sport in Hockey outside a handful of northern cities. It’s just not broadly culturally relevant – I doubt most Americans could name 3 hockey players off the top of their head.

    Not to go at Hockey, but I just think the view gets distorted by northerners who look around and see it is popular, but don’t realise is is literally irrelevant in huge parts of the nation. Go to buffalo and you will find soccer fans, hockey fans, baseball fans, etc. But go to San Antonio and you will find soccer fans, baseball fans…good luck finding a single person who can explain the basic rules of Hockey to you.

  219. greg

    December 9, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    This is a tough thing to measure…people saying you can’t compare leagues to an entire sport have a good point. Total aggregate soccer viewing as measured by ratings will include people watching multiple leagues, so you can’t measure that way. The Gallup survey is a good starter but of course it’s 3 years old now. But the other data points do present a decent case. Though others are correct in pointing out the omission of NASCAR & college football. I’ll bet it’s a very different picture regionally, the place of soccer relative to those sports.

    I think the interesting points are viewership among younger fans across sports. EPL and Euro soccer in general is helped by having kick-off times that are very kid-friendly. Regular season US sports sometimes have afternoon starts, but often games start at 7p or 8p and parents probably aren’t letting kids stay up late too often to watch. It’s especially acute for events like the World Series or NBA Finals which routinely have starts late enough that adults complain. And most post-season baseball games drag on for 3 hours. The NFL does well to have the Super Bowl start earlier, but even then the end is later into the evening.

    So kids can watch early EPL or other Euro leagues, then head off to play in the late morning, early afternoon. MLS does have afternoon starts, which helps.

    ps – not sure exactly how to best word it, but when you talk about a two-leg final like the Liga MX, the combined viewership is not 4.8 million unique viewers, clearly many people watched both legs. You didn’t write “unique” but it could be implied.

  220. Ra

    December 9, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Who cares? I actually enjoy the niche status soccer has here in the US. And obviously, the fact that I can get all the soccer I want and can watch for $12/mo.

  221. Michael

    December 9, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    @Giovanni. Did you not read the article? EPL is lapped by Liga MX, and their average numbers are on par with MLS. EPL is not even the most popular soccer league…much less putting it over Hockey. Besides, hockey is regional too. If you go to the Northeast: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington NHL numbers crush soccer. The same for the Midwest: Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, etc. Finally, I love Soccer by he (Kyle) is really reaching for this.
    1. College Football and 2. College Basketball are both ahead of soccer. So even if you give him NHL (which I don’t), that still make “Soccer” as 6th at best…but you can’t do that. As mentioned by the gentlemen above you can’t combine Soccer into one field. I have watched over 50 La Liga games this year, and I have only watched 3 EPL games. So the leagues have different fans and they are not the same. If you want to combine leagues you may be able to get by with North American and then you combine Liga MX and MLS and average it out…even that is a totally different equations. Lastly, he (Kyle) is completely off base about Baseball. For instance in the year after the COVID year the LA Dodgers drew 2.8 millions fans for the season with and average of almost 35,000 a game. In 2019, the last “Regular” non-COVID year they drew 4 million with an average of 49,000. The number he listed were national numbers for TV Ratings…but 90% of MLB games are regional and MLB broadcast of the RSN are some of the highest rates shows out there. Look, I am not trying to be Critical of Kyle, I know he is new to the scene and I give him his props for writing the article, but next time he needs to work with Kartik to develop his story board and his narrative before he trying to gives stats. I will admit, sometime I don’t disagree with Kartik, but I can never questions his data and his statistics. Kartik is on point and he is able to use his data to prove a point even if it is not popular. Kyle, was really stretching here. Soccer has been the most played or participated sport in America for the last 30 years. More than Football or baseball…but that doesn’t mean it is the most popular.

  222. JP

    December 9, 2021 at 11:26 am

    @Giovanni, but has it? Look at playoff or Stanley Cup final ratings compared to EPL. Even last year when it was Tampa (not a huge national following) and Montreal (should have minimal US following), the ratings were better than the most watched EPL matches of all time in the US.

    Cannot go by regular season national tv ratings for NHL. It’s a regional sport for the regular season, and sure in most markets the local NHL ratings on the various RSN’s are more than EPL gets.

  223. Giovanni

    December 9, 2021 at 11:01 am

    English premier league has passed the NHL for the fourth popular sport league in the United States but not MLS

  224. Leo

    December 9, 2021 at 10:48 am

    “….Kyle supports FC Barcelona…”

  225. JP

    December 9, 2021 at 10:12 am

    Similar to what Ricco said above, comparing the combined popularity of all soccer leagues vs NBA/NHL/MLB etc isn’t apples to apples. There are definitely fans of soccer who only follow one or two of the various leagues. I don’t watch any Liga MX (biggest driver), it seems many EPL fans watch only EPL and nothing else, save for UCL. Many fans of the Euro leagues watch little of MLS (2nd or 3rd biggest driver?)

    Also, going by national TV ratings is ignoring the big picture of US sports leagues that aren’t the NFL; local viewership. For many national TV regular broadcasts of NBA/NHL/MLB, there’s little interest in watching if a fan’s local team isn’t involved. This changes some in the playoffs, but for regular season it’s definitely a factor.

    A better metric would be ratings for each sport (have to include college football and basketball if we’re being fair) in each market (including RSN viewership) and compare to soccer ratings in that market. I think you’d come to a very different conclusion.

    In some markets, NHL may very well be below soccer, in others it would dwarf soccer.

    As for youth participation being a harbinger of interest in the future, soccer has been on of the top youth sports for decades already. Not a new phenomenon.

  226. Trip

    December 9, 2021 at 9:54 am

    The gallup poll is nearly three years old, anything more recent? My assumption is the results are likely the same, but it would be more relevant to the article if the results are more recent.

  227. Ricco Richardson

    December 9, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Ok Kyle you know you wrong when you compare a SPORT against LEAGUES! Really Make make sense!

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