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Sunday night match draws lowest ESPN audience
by Paul Kennedy, by Ridge Mahoney, October 26th, 2012 1:20AM
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TAGS:  mls, soccer business, television


By Ridge Mahoney and Paul Kennedy

Last Sunday’s ESPN telecast of Seattle’s 3-1 victory over FC Dallas that eliminated FCD from playoff contention didn’t do well with the national TV audience.

The game, which aired in a 9-11 p.m. Eastern time slot, generated an estimated audience of 211,000 -- the lowest viewership for the nine regular-season games on ESPN. On Oct. 7, another Sunday telecast in the same time slot of the Seattle-Portland game did much better: 290,000 viewers.

ESPN concludes its regular-season coverage with Sunday's Los Angeles-Seattle game, also in the  9-11 p.m. Eastern time slot.

The four summer telecasts averaged 585,000 viewers -- more than double the average of 288,000 viewers for the other five telecasts on ESPN.

On average, ESPN games (approximately 470,000 viewers) have rated roughly double the telecasts on ESPN2 (230,000) this season. Last year’s averages were slightly higher on ESPN and about the same on ESPN2.

ESPN will televise MLS Cup 2012 live on Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. ET and will also air a handful of playoff games on its channels.

NBC FINISHES WITH TRIPLEHEADER. NBC wraps up the regular season of its first year broadcasting MLS games with a tripleheader Saturday, and all three games feature intriguing storylines.

Coverage on the main network kicks off the tripleheader at 1:30 p.m. ET with Philadelphia hosting the Red Bulls, who currently stand fourth in the Eastern Conference and could finish anywhere from third to fifth depending on results of the final round of games. The Union cannot reach the playoffs but gave conference champ Kansas City a good tussle before losing, 2-1, on Wednesday and has the added incentive of playing its final home game of 2012 at PPL Park.

This is the third MLS game carried on the main network, and as per terms of the contract signed between NBC and league, it will also televise a playoff game to be determined.

The first of two games on NBC Sports Network, Chicago-D.C. United, follows at 4 p.m. Again pending results, the teams could meet again in the semifinals if they finish in the second and third spots. If New York beats Philly earlier in the day, Chicago or D.C. would probably be dropped into the wild-card game.

Top scorer Chris Wondolowski (26 goals) gets his last chance to tie or break Roy Lassiter’s league record of 27 goals in a season when Supporters’ Shield winner San Jose plays at Portland (6:30 p.m.).

NBC Sports Network will air its first playoff game Thursday when the Galaxy and Vancouver play a wild-card game at Home Depot Center (10:30 p.m. ET). Other playoff games to be aired on NBCSN will be finalized after the regular season concludes Sunday night.

UMBRO SOLD AT BIG LOSS. Nike, who paid $565 million to buy Umbro in 2008, agreed to sell Umbro to Iconix Brand Group for $225 million in a deal expected to close at the end of 2012.

Umbro continues to sponsor the English national team as well as English champion Manchester City, but its presence in the international soccer market has otherwise diminished in the face of competition from Nike, adidas and Puma.

Iconix owns and licenses brands such as Candie's, Bongo and Mossimo. Some analysts believe it will sell Umbro as a life-style brand and get out high price-tag soccer sponsorships.

Umbro has a rich history in soccer dating back to the 1934 FC Cup when it sponsored both teams, Manchester City and Portsmouth.

JAMAICAN TO HEAD CONCACAF AUDIT COMMITTEE. Leighton McKnight, a managing partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Jamaica, will chair Concacaf's Audit & Compliance Committee.

“This critical organization in our region has faced significant governance challenges in the past," said McKnight in a statement, "but now has the opportunity to positively shape its future. I eagerly look forward to making my contribution as a part of the team, adding significant value to the rebuilding process."

Carlos Cordeiro, the first independent director appointed to U.S. Soccer's Board of Directors in 2007, will be the committee's vice chairman.

1 comment
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: October 26, 2012 at 11:42 a.m.
    MLS should leave ESPN /Disney completely. A contract without promotion = failure. If ESPN wants the world cup again , then they better realize that you cannot treat MLS like the ugly stepsister, and MLS should demand the end of such conduct

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