The Major League Soccer Playoffs got started in earnest over the weekend, with matches in four cities for the first leg of the semi-final round. All of the games were nationally televised on NBC, ESPN or NBCSN (via local RSN telecasts). Despite a putrid viewership of less than 300k on NBC last week, the Peacock doubled down on Houston, with the opener from BBVA getting the broadcast television treatment against the Red Bulls.
One of the big business stories of the playoff weekend was the omnipresence of football markings on the soccer fields around the league. Both Gillette and Century Link were scheduled to host NFL games on Sunday after a Saturday night soccer game. At BBVA Compass, the lines were faded, but still noticeable. Only the Sunday night game from Stub Hub was free of football markings. The markings are an inevitable consequence of fall sports in the United States, but many fans fear they make the MLS look minor league.
The attendance was also a bit of story, with a large 38k crowd in Seattle mid-week as the Sounders moved past Colorado and into the next round. However, the combination of monsoon conditions, Halloween and a short week led to a very small 10k crowd at BBVA, by far the smallest of the season.
The weekend was a mixed attendance bag. The Revs opened the weekend with just over 15k at Gillette, a drop from the last few weekend of the season, but better than many historical Revs home playoff dates in the past. Later in the day, Seattle managed its usual 38k plus, despite some ribbing from others around the game about Seattle’s use of Groupon to pump attendance. The early Sunday game again went up against the NFL, but with the Texans playing football later in the day, the local team wasn’t a direct conflict. The Houston faithful rebounded from their week showing on Thursday night draw a crowd of 20k plus.
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