Sports Media Watch is reporting that the USA/Brazil match televised on ESPN2 drew almost 800,000 viewers on Tuesday night. In Nielsen terms, that represents a .50 rating. The number represents a significant increase over typical MLS broadcasts, which are often under 200,00 viewers. The game also drew more viewers than the recent MLS All-Star game by about 70,000 viewers. By way of an unfair comparison, 19 million people watched the last televised US match when the US last to Ghana in the Round of 16 at the World Cup.
Keeping with the theme of televised soccer in the United States, ESPN has reached a three year deal with Fox Sports International to televise EPL matches in the United States. The package includes 74 games per season and will permit broadcasts on ESPN television, mobile networks and ESPN3.com. The agreement also includes rights to Spanish telecasts through ESPN Deportes. The agreement increases ESPN’s EPL commitment by approximately 30 games over last year.
The deal shows ESPN’s continued commitment to televising soccer in the United States and it allows the World Wide Leader to offer desirable, live programming at times when the network usually relies on repeats and studio produced fare. Based on ratings from last year, ESPN can expect between 200-300k per match and higher numbers for especially desirable games. Key for fans of MLS will be ESPN’s preference for EPL matches over MLS. EPL games provide ESPN with a great opportunity to promote their relationship with MLS, however last year the network did not make great use of that avenue.
Finally, Soccer America offers a list of the top 10 largest soccer crowds in the US in 2010. Most notably, the Mexican National Team accounts for half of the top ten (how is that relationship working out SUM?). MLS teams account for two of the big crowds, but both matches involved international club competition. The US Men pulled in two of the top crowds.