The growing popularity of Wrexham AFC in the United States is boosting ESPN’s viewing numbers for the FA Cup. The fifth-tier Welsh side has risen to global relevance thanks to the 2020 takeover by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and the “Welcome to Wrexham” FX TV series following the club.
Viewership for the FA Cup second round this season was up 858% percent over last year, and first round action was up 100%. According to the ESPN communications department, the rise in interest is a direct result of Wrexham AFC.
American soccer fans are tuning in to watch their new favorite overseas club.
The Red Dragons fell just short of glory in 2021/22, losing in both the promotion playoff semifinal and FA Trophy Final. This season they currently sit just two points off first place in the National League (and the automatic promotion spot to League Two that comes with it). In the FA Cup, Wrexham emerged triumphant in all three ties so far, defeating Blyth Spartans (after a replay), Oldham, and Farnborough on their way to the Third Round Proper. They are set to head to Coventry City this Saturday for their next match in the tournament, with kickoff at 12:30 PM ET on ESPN+. Wrexham is one of three fifth-tier clubs left in the competition, the lowest ranking teams remaining.
Wrexham boost ESPN viewership
Even as the higher-profile clubs from the Premier League and Championship join the competition this round, Wrexham’s clash with Coventry will surely be one of the most-watched games of the weekend, at least Stateside.
As for the rest of the season, thanks in part to pressure from Wrexham and their new owners, viewers worldwide can now stream live National League matches on a new streaming service from the league. And for fans eager for more behind the scenes looks at the club, don’t worry, a second season of “Welcome to Wrexham” is on the way.
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