England’s Premier League has leapfrogged Mexico’s Liga MX as the most popular soccer league in the United States, per a recent report. As a result, the ranking of the most popular soccer leagues in the United States has dramatically changed.

The best way to measure the popularity of any given sports league is to base it on the number of people watching the games. Therefore, we’ve accumulated the TV and streaming viewership as reported by Nielsen as well as numbers shared by broadcasters and streaming services to find the winners. After all, Americans can watch thousands of soccer games each season, so the competition is quite fierce.

Most popular soccer leagues in the United States based on viewership

Based on the data calculated from Nielsen and shared by broadcasters, here are the top eight most-watched soccer leagues in the United States. These rankings are based on overall soccer viewership during the 2023 calendar year:

  1. Premier League
  2. Liga MX
  3. Major League Soccer
  4. LaLiga
  5. NWSL
  6. Bundesliga
  7. Serie A
  8. Ligue 1

Gauging the popular soccer leagues in the United States

The Premier League has only recently usurped the top spot from Liga MX. The Premier League’s recent success in TV viewership has cracked over two million viewers for many regular season games among the league’s traditional ‘big-six’ clubs. In fact, 2023 has been a record year for Premier League viewership in the United States. The top five most-watched Premier League games in US television history all occurred during 2023.

Previously, for decades, Mexico dominated the United States soccer viewership due to the number of Mexican-American fans in the US as well as the ease of accessibility of games across Univision. There are still millions of supporters for clubs such as Club América, Chivas, Cruz Azul, Pumas, and Monterrey.

But 2023 saw a seismic drop in viewership of Liga MX games. For instance, viewership of Liga MX’s 2023 Apertura decreased by 12% compared to 2022.

Still, there’s no doubt that the popularity of both Liga MX and the Premier League in the United States is due to many of their games being available on free over-the-air television. For example, the Premier League’s total viewership for 9 days over the Christmas period was higher than all of MLS’s TV broadcasts in the entirety of 2023. Being on network and cable television still matters when it comes to viewership.

Popularity and streaming

After the Premier League and Liga MX, there’s no doubt that Major League Soccer is a distant third in the most popular soccer leagues. Lionel Messi’s arrival ballooned the league’s streaming service (MLS Season Pass) to over one million subscribers, which is an impressive statistic on its own. Streaming numbers for individual MLS games have not been made available by the league or Apple.

However, Nielsen has reported that 1.75 million viewers tuned in on Univision to watch Messi’s debut game for Inter Miami. Plus, 815,000 watched the MLS Cup final on FOX. While streaming numbers are unavailable, the TV viewership for the 2023 final was down 58% compared to 2022.

In fourth place among the most popular soccer leagues is LaLiga. The Spanish top-flight league benefits from several games per week being televised across ESPN Deportes, which is consistently generating roughly 150,000 viewers per match. That consistency in addition to all of the games streamed on ESPN+, as well as superclubs Barcelona and Real Madrid, puts LaLiga ahead of NWSL.

The growth of NWSL

While last year’s el Clásico in LaLiga pulled 538,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes (not including ESPN+), the NWSL has experienced growth, and it is making a conscious effort to expand with new teams lining up in the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, and Utah. The last two NWSL finals pulled over 800,000 viewers. The final appearances of Ali Krieger and Megan Rapinoe helped that figure. The only thing that keeps it behind LaLiga in these standings is the presence of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Those two clubs have games available on ESPN Deportes, and fans regularly tune into games that do not even grab headlines.

Outside of the NWSL finals on network television, viewership of NWSL games is growing but finds itself well behind the other leagues.

Meanwhile, the Bundesliga and Serie A find most of its games on streaming. ESPN+ and Paramount+ typically do not make viewership numbers accessible. However, ESPN put a recent Dortmund-Leipzig game on ABC, where just over 400,000 fans tuned in.

Combining all of the soccer TV and streaming viewership together in 2023, the Premier League represents 30% of all viewership. Liga MX follows closely behind at 23%.

The remaining leagues hover around 1% (or lower) of all viewership.