[SOCCER ON THE AIR]The five games on the opening weekend of the 2014-15 English Premier League season on NBC and NBCSN averaged 545,000 viewers, up 23 percent from the five games on last season's opening weekend when NBC Sports Group took over as the EPL rights-holder in the United States.
World Cup bump? Good promotion? Interest in new season? Probably a combination of all three though one continues to be amazed at ingenuity of some of NBC's efforts to promote the new season.
The addition of the English Premier League to NBCSN's program lineup is largely responsible for it being television’s fastest growing sports cable network in total day viewership over the last year. And the opening week bump follows the mid-summer lull on NBCSN. (No program the week before had more than 206,000 viewers.)
Some Week 1 highlights ...
-- Saturday's Arsenal-Crystal Palace match on NBC averaged 885,000 viewers, making it the most-watched opening weekend match in U.S. history, up 12 percent from last year’s opening weekend match on NBC (Swansea City-Manchester United).
-- The four weekend matches on NBCSN averaged 463,000 viewers, an increase of 30 percent from last year’s 356,000 average viewership for the four games on NBCSN.
-- Sunday's Newcastle-Manchester City match on NBCSN averaged 514,000 viewers, making it the most-watched opening weekend match on cable in U.S. history, breaking the record of 476,000 viewers for the Arsenal-Sunderland match on ESPN in 2012.
(As a matter of comparison, the two MLS games on NBCSN -- Real Salt Lake-Seattle and Houston-Philadelphia -- averaged 183,000 and 82,000, respectively.)
-- Reflective of the growing popularity of live streaming broadcasts, fans streamed more than 8.9 million minutes of action via NBC Sports Live Extra for the best-ever Premier League weekend and an increase of 56 percent from last year’s 5.7 million minutes.
Top Markets, Week 1
1 Washington, D.C.
4 West Palm Beach
6 Las Vegas
11 New Haven
14 New Orleans