Soccer Business Bits: TV Ratings, ESPN Change & More

The viewership numbers are in for a few of mid-week clashes from across the pond and the numbers are  quite impressive.  From the AP (via, “Both Champions League semifinals and the Manchester derby for first place in the Premier League averaged more 1 million television viewers in the U.S. despite weekday afternoon starting times. The four Champions League semifinals averaged 1,033,000 viewers on Fox’s English English- and Spanish-language networks, up 29 percent from last year.”

According to the article, the Manchester Derby drew more than 1,000,000 viewers on ESPN2 on Monday afternoon.  The numbers smashed the previous EPL high of just over 600,00 from December, 2010.  The match drew an additional 275,00 viewers on ESPN Deportes.  These are remarkable numbers for a mid afternoon start time.

Elsewhere, the Worldwide Leader has rebranded its online soccer presence by naming its site ESPNFC.  According to the press release, “The new brand will extend across TV, radio, print, online, print and mobile.”  Timed for the start of Euro 2012, the re-brand will also utilize information to provide local content and 24/7 updating to all readers.   There is little question that ESPN’s coverage has taken a decidedly EURO turn over the years and this re-brand solidifies that move and focus.  That said, the network did a solid job of promoting MLS during its recent EPL telecast.

One final note.  The internet has been abuzz with news that renown broadcaster Gus Johnson is moving to the world of soccer.  Johnson has recently taken in some soccer matches in Europe and has started doing San Jose matches on the radio.  Click here for a great interview with Johnson about soccer, broadcasting and the possibility that he could become a lead voice for Fox.