Week One MLS TV Viewership

Over the last couple of days, various sources have releases the amount of viewers for the opening weekend of Major League Soccer.  In Canada, the news was great.  According to a press release from TSN, the combined Canadian viewing audience (RDS and TSN) exceed 540k on average.  That is a great number for the opening match.  The first match included to Canadian franchises, so whether those numbers will continue remains to be seen.

Perhaps most remarkable, the press release indicates that more than 2.5 million Canadians watched some or all of the game.  Per the press release, “TSN, along with RDS, are the official broadcasters of Major League Soccer (MLS) in Canada with a national broadcast package that includes 36 games featuring Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. TSN also has live coverage of 22 games featuring U.S.-based teams, along with exclusive Canadian coverage of the MLS CUP Playoffs, the MLS Cup 2012 and the MLS ALL-STAR GAME.”

At the same time, the NBC broadcast averaged 82,000 viewers.  For context, ESPN averaged just under 300k viewers for its broadcasts last year while FSC averaged just under 70k.  While those numbers appear disappointing, they are acceptable within the realm of the NBC Sports Network’s early struggles to attract viewers.  Per the Sports Business Daily, “[d]espite heavy promotion on the NBC broadcast network and a focus on higher-quality shows, viewership for NBC Sports Network is down 21 percent on a total-day basis from January 2011 to January 2012. In January 2011, Versus averaged 78,000 viewers. In January 2012, the first month of NBC Sports Network, that figure dropped to 62,000.”  The one program doing well on NBSCN is live NHL, which now occupies almost every night of the network schedule.