Liga MX has been eclipsed for the first time in US soccer history by the English Premier League, now the most-watched soccer league in the United States.

For decades in the United States, Mexico’s top-flight Liga MX had been the leader. Its supremacy was boosted by the largest segment of Hispanics living in this country. Remarkably, though, 2023 has seen a tidal change.

Based on new data from Nielsen compiled by World Soccer Talk and sports media analyst Larry Johnson, the research shows that the Premier League pulls in more viewers than Liga MX. When it comes to both TV and streaming, the Premier League’s average, for the first time, is consistently higher than that of its Mexican counterpart throughout 2023.

In the past, the one major difference was that Liga MX averaged bigger audiences for its Apertura and Clausura Finals. However, the recent second leg of the Apertura between Club America and Tigres on December 17 had the same number of viewers (2.21 million) as the Liverpool versus Manchester United match earlier that same day. It’s also worth noting that the America-Tigres final was aired during primetime on Univision and TUDN, while the Premier League game was televised on a Sunday morning.

Digging through the data

It’s not just one game that shows a changing trend.

This is not just a matter of the Premier League getting more viewers. Nor is it solely based on Liga MX declining in relative viewership. Instead, it is both. The Premier League is consistently registering new records in viewership, including increased viewership across both NBC and Peacock. That is a credit to the variety of teams in the league showing success (in addition to the existing factors as to why the Premier League is so popular). At the same time, the viewership of Liga MX has declined sharply this year.

Johnson from Helltown Beer analyzed the statistics on Liga MX and Premier League viewership on Univision from 2022 and 2023. The average Univision viewership for the Mexican top flight in 2022 was around 900,000. By comparison, the Premier League viewership on NBC or USA Network was just shy of 800,000. Fast forward to 2023, and those rankings flipped. The Premier League was relatively flat, as average viewership was 700,000. Comparatively, Liga MX plummeted to just over 600,000. In other words, the average Liga MX viewership on Univision was down 30%.

In addition, viewership of Liga MX’s 2023 Apertura decreased by 12% compared to 2022. Meanwhile, Premier League viewership increased by 2% on NBC as well as 2% on USA in 2023.

Notably last year, Liga MX had extremes in both high and low viewership that vastly exceeded the Premier League. Also, this does not apply to this year. Liga MX topped out on one game on Univision at over 1.4 million in 2022 before 1.3 million in 2023.

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Reasons for a drop in Liga MX viewership

It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for the declining viewership in Liga MX, but the intra-league competition Leagues Cup between MLS and Liga MX could be a significant factor. The competition between Liga MX and MLS was not perceived favorably by fans of Liga MX clubs. So much so that Liga MX was unable to sell the rights to the competition in Mexico.

Also, many of the Leagues Cup matches involving Liga MX were streamed behind the MLS Season Pass paywall. Preventing fans of Liga MX clubs from watching many of the games may have upset many loyal supporters before the Apertura began.

Similarly, many of the Liga MX games are only available on the paid streaming service ViX. Fans of Liga MX clubs in the United States have been used to watching most of the games for free, so the ViX paywall may have been too much for many fans to stomach.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that giving American fans so many chances to watch the Premier League via streaming, English TV and Spanish TV has helped set records in viewership that NBC Sports regularly touts.