[SOCCER ON THE AIR]TThe late Sunday night match on ESPN2 between the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers drew an average of 426,000 viewers, the most for an MLS regular-season game on the Deuce in more than four years. It followed the lowest national audience of the year -- only 69,000 viewers -- for NBCSN's late Friday night match between San Jose and D.C. United. But average viewers on all three of MLS's English-language networks are up more than 80 percent year-to-year.
2014 MLS Average Audiences:
ESPN (1 game): 495,000 (+89%)
ESPN2 (3 games):309,000 (+83%)
NBCSN (12 games):172,000 (+81%)
Note: Percentage changes vs. same number of games in 2013.
The last time MLS drew a bigger audience on ESPN2 for a regular-season match was the viewership of 531,000 for the October 2009 match between Chicago and the LA Galaxy.
Sunday's viewership boosted the season average (three games) on ESPN2 to 309,000 a game, up 83 percent from 169,000 after three games in 2013.
NBCSN, which did not renew its agreement with MLS, has averaged 82,000 viewers for four games since the World Cup, down 62 percent from the average of 216,000 for the first eight games, all played during the English Premier League season, which NBCSN carried for the first time in 2013-14.
While all eight MLS matches did not directly follow EPL games, the EPL coverage has certainly made NBCSN a destination network for soccer fans, which helped boost the average MLS viewers on NBCSN by 116 percent from the 2013 season through eight games.
Three of the four NBCSN games since the World Cup break have aired on Friday night -- the dedicated window for Univision (primarily UniMas) coverage, beginning in 2015. NBCSN plans 14 more Friday night broadcasts before the end of the 2014 regular season.
For the 2014 season, MLS is averaging 172,000 viewers on NBCSN, an increase of 81 percent over the first 12 games in 2013.
The only game to air on ESPN so far this season was the July 6 match between Sporting Kansas City and Chicago that averaged 495,000 viewers.
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This week's MLS schedule includes two games on ESPN2 -- Wednesday's Philadelphia-New York game (7 p.m. ET) and Saturday's Sporting Kansas City-LA Galaxy game (6 p.m. ET) and one on NBCSN -- Friday's Portland-Colorado game (11 p.m. ET).