The overnight TV ratings for Saturday’s dueling broadcasts between Leverkusen-Bayern Munich on FOX and Southampton-West Ham on NBC are in, and the Bundesliga/FOX duo have been dealt a crushing blow as their game failed to beat NBC’s coverage of the Premier League. NBC delivered an overnight rating of 0.56 compared to FOX’s rating of 0.33.
If the Bundesliga with the ‘Chicharito Effect’ and Bayern Munich can’t beat the Premier League on US TV, it may never will.
With the box office appeal of Javier Hernandez, the most marketable footballer in the US after Messi and Ronaldo, combined with the nationwide appeal of Germany’s most popular team Bayern Munich, you would have bet that the viewing audience on FOX would have been far greater than Southampton against West Ham United, two clubs who have proud histories but lack the marketability in the United States.
With Leverkusen-Munich and Southampton-West Ham kicking off at the same time (Saturday, 12:30pm ET) on broadcast television in the United States, it was a golden opportunity for the Bundesliga to demonstrate how the league — with the benefit of FOX — is a major player on US television. However, the fact that Southampton-West Ham got a better overnight rating is a devastating blow to the league’s chances of growing in popularity in the United States. Plus, NBC was able to retain most of its audience with an overnight rating of 0.52 who watched the critically-acclaimed Behind The Badge: Crystal Palace documentary after the Southampton-Hammers game, which was still greater than the 0.33 rating for Leverkusen-Bayern.
Given the disappointing numbers for FOX and the Bundesliga, you have to wonder why more soccer fans would watch a Premier League game instead of a more high-profile Bundesliga matchup. NBC’s world-class coverage is certainly a factor, but FOX also delivered a quality broadcast on Saturday for Leverkusen-Munich, which was one of their better ones in recent memory.
Another factor is FOX Sports’ unwillingness to promote its Bundesliga property. Before Saturday, there was little to no advertising or publicity driven by FOX Sports to promote the game, while NBC Sports made their talent available for interviews to preview the weekend coverage.
On paper, the Leverkusen-Munich game was a far more attractive proposition than watching Southampton-West Ham. With the Premier League, NBC has one of the fastest growing properties across all of US television. Through hard work and consistency, NBC has developed an audience that is emotionally invested in watching the Premier League and all of the storylines and ramifications that happen during a season. Even if their team is not being shown, the viewers will tune in to watch other Premier League teams because it is part of their ritual.
For the Bundesliga and FOX to crack the US market, they both need to put far more effort into changing people’s habits.
The final TV viewing numbers will be made available on Thursday.
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