By Paul Kennedy
The second week of the NBC Sports Group's coverage of the English Premier League continued to produce strong viewership figures with four live EPL games and three weekend studio shows ranking among the top 10 English-language soccer broadcasts in terms of average viewers for the week of Aug. 19-25.
That week saw for the first time two daily magazine shows air. ESPN FC on ESPN2 averaged 98,000 for five broadcasts, while Fox Soccer Daily on the new Fox Sports 1 averaged 34,000 viewers for two broadcasts. (It was pre-empted twice for UEFA Champions League coverage and once for car racing.)
-- DirecTV W Connection-Houston Dynamo game, the first Concacaf Champions League match on Fox Soccer 1, averaged 21,000 viewers, while the two NWSL semifinals on Fox Sports 2, Fox's other new sports channel, averaged 10,000 and 6,000 viewers.
-- The smallest audience for a live match on English-language television was 1,000 viewers for the Lyon-Real Sociedad UCL match on Fox Sports 2.
Soccer viewers on television (Aug. 19-25)
AVG. NETWORK PROGRAM (DAY)
776,000 NBCEPL: Aston Villa-Liverpool (Saturday, noon-2 pm)
491,000 ESPNNine for IX film: "The 99ers" (Tuesday, 8-9 pm)
459,000 NBCSN EPL: Tottenham-Swansea City (Sunday, 11 am-1 pm)
393,000 NBCSN EPL: Southampton-Sunderland (Saturday, 10 am-noon)
346,000 ESPN2MLS: Seattle-Portland (Sunday, 10 pm-midnight)
312,000 NBCSNPremier League Live Studio (Saturday, 9:42-9:55 am)
297,000 NBCSNPremier League Live Studio (Saturday, 11:55 am-12:30 pm)
296,000 ESPN2Spanish Super Copa: Barcelona-Valencia (Wednesday, 5-7 pm)
266,000 NBCSNEPL: Fulham-Arsenal (Saturday, 7:45 am-9:45 am)
247,000 NBCSNPremier League Live Studio (Sunday, 1:08-1:20 pm)
Source:Son of the Bronx
WEEKEND VIEWING NUMBERS.Sunday's Arsenal-Tottenham game averaged 574,000 viewers on NBCSN, its largest audience to date for its live coverage of the EPL. Friday night's Real Salt Lake-Portland game averaged 171,000 on NBCSN, its three highest audience of the year for an MLS match. (h/t @Ourand_SBJ)
ORLANDO CROWD COUNT.Orlando City has done a remarkable job of generating interest around its bid to obtain an MLS expansion team and build a soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando, but the Orlando Sentinel questioned just how great fan interest is in Orlando City, which hosts Saturday's USL PRO final against Charlotte.
Orlando City reported it averaged 8,053 fans a game during the 2013 USL PRO regular season, but the turnstile count at the city-owned Florida Citrus Bowl showed an average of only at 3,987 people went through the gates, according to the Sentinel.
Brett Lashbrook, the project director of the Orlando City MLS bid, told the Sentinel that the gate count does not take into account various dedicated fan groups who don't use the turnstiles, including its Fan Zone supporters and youth groups.
"We have tried to be as accurate and honest as we can," Lashbrook said. "I think it's in line with the industry practice, and in fact it's more honest than other leagues."
Bottom line: the Citrus Bowl crowds are likely to have been somewhere between the two averages of 8,053 and 3,987.
Orlando City has set a target of 15,000 fans for the USL PRO final.
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