Soccer Business Bits:USA/Brazil Ratings, Premier League Viewing & More

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   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.

World Cup: By the Numbers

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting theory the 2010 World Cup is grabbing a large portion of the American sports pie.  Americans are discussing the World Cup around the office, media outlets are carrying increasing coverage and bars are filling at odd hours nationwide for matches involving all teams.  The ratings complete the story.

We reported earlier on the numbers from the early parts of the tournament.  The opening game of the 2010 World Cup (played before breakfast on the West Coast), averaged 5.4 million viewers on Univision and 2.6 million on ESPN. The Univision broadcast was the number 1 program of the day in more than five US Cities.  The USA/England game on ABC averaged just under 13 million viewers and was the fifth most watched soccer match in ABC history.  For purposes of comparison, game 4 of the NBA finals on ABC achieved an estimated 16 million viewers on Thursday night, making it far and away the most highly viewed show of the week.  Neither number factors in “mass audiences” .

The ratings have continued, with Reuters reporting that through the first 14 matches of the World Cup, ESPN and ABC have delivered an average crowd of 3.35 million viewers, marking a 64% increase from the same period in 2006, when the networks drew 2.9 million fans.  Univision has shown similar success across all platforms, with Reuters further reporting that through June 15 had tracked 6 million visits in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, double its 2006 traffic. The site averaged 250,000 unique viewers during live matches, peaking with 130,000 concurrent users during the Brazil-North Korea match.

Excellent ratings have continued during weekday games, with almost 4 million viewers watching the USA/Slovenia match on Friday morning. The broadcast shattered records for and with almost 1 million viewers spending more than 45 minutes on the site during the early broadcast.

These numbers are excellent and promise to increase as the tournament moves forward.  A USA run through the tournament would significantly increase ratings and ESPN is likely salivating at the possibility of a USA weekend match should the Americans qualify for the round of 16.  Regardless, ESPN will expect great ratings as the tournament moves into the final stages.

Soccer Business Bits: Flying to Seattle, ESPN News & More

Just a couple of quick hits today:

Kudos to RSL for arranging a $300 non-stop flight for RSL fans from Salt Lake City to Seattle for the big game.  The best part?  The flight will be on the RSL branded plane. Other one-stop flights are available at $99 per flight.

ESPN has announced its broadcast plans for the game and lead-up to to the match. Highlights inclulde an ESPN Classic presentation on the lead-up to the Cup and notifcation that the broadcast will be seen in 122 countries.  Perhaps most interesting, the article also notes that the Galaxy/Dynamo Conference Final, despite the 11:25 start tine and and 36 minutes of power delays, was the most watched MLS broadcast in ESPN history, with more than 700,000 viewers and a .5 rating. These numbers do not include an additional 120,000 on ESPN Deportes.

Finally, Red Bull Arena has been announced as a host site for the Football World Series.  The four team tournament will take place in the Summer of 2010 and will include a number of prominent world club teams.  The Red Bulls will be one of the teams involved.