In a year in which MLS attendance is showing almost an 8% year over year increase, the Sports Business Journal is reporting that ESPN2 ratings this season are down 1.6% over last year. In pure numbers, this represents a decline from 255,000 per match to 251,000 viewers per match. SBJ is also reporting that FSC is averaging just over 50k per game in the final year of their 11 year $2.2 per year deal. The league’s Spanish language broadcasts are averaging just under 200k viewers per game. These ratings are disappointing, but could benefit from media coverage of the World Cup and the arrival of Thierry Henry. The first game after the World Cup on ESPN2 drew almost 400k viewers.
Elsewhere, MLS is gearing up for a busy week of national exposure, with MLS featuring in primetime on Wednesday night in Philly and Thursday night in New York. Manchester United will match up with expansion Philadelphia on Wednesday while Thierry Henry makes his much anticipated debut on Thursday night against Tottenham. Also on Thursday, ESPN2 will televise the Galaxy against San Jose providing ESPN another opportunity to showcase Landon Donovan. As it stands now, ESPN and FSC each have couple of games where they can feature Henry and Donovan including a Friday night matchup between LA and NY in September.
Finally, RSL is offering an intriguing 3 game pack that includes two club games and tickets to one CONCACAF Champions League match. It will be interesting to see how the CCL is greeted in markets such as Salt Lake City and Seattle which haven’t had the opportunity to host these typically poorly attended events. It is good to see teams encouraging non season ticket holders to attend these games.