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MLS Cup viewers on UniMas surpass those on ESPN
by Paul Kennedy, December 10th, 2013 5:10PM
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TAGS:  mls, soccer business, television


By Paul Kennedy

Saturday's MLS Cup drew the fewest English-language viewers on record, so few in fact that the Spanish-language broadcast on UniMas outdrew drew the ESPN broadcast for the first time.

The average of 505,000 viewers for Sporting Kansas City-Real Salt Lake on ESPN was less than half the ESPN audience two years ago for what was supposed to be David Beckham's farewell game. He ended up playing another season for the LA Galaxy. This year's average viewership was down 37 percent compared to last year's audience for LA Galaxy-Houston II.

One small consolation: strong audiences in the Kansas City and Salt Lake City markets: peak ratings of 7.6 and 6.2, respectively (h/t: @stevelepore).

The Spanish-language audience on UniMas increased almost 6 percent from last year's audience to 514,000 viewers, more than double what they were only three years ago on another Univision network, Galavision.

The numbers are consistent with the trend during the 2013 regular season. Univision reported that the average viewers on UniMas' MLS regular-season broadcasts (223,000) topped those on ESPN2 (181,000).

Sports Business Daily had reported that the average viewership dropped 29 percent on ESPN/ESPN and 8 percent to 112,000 on NBCSN (which had benefited in 2012 from usually high viewerships due to lead-ins from its London Olympics coverage).

The rebranding of TeleFutura as UniMas and its strong soccer programming lineup -- including many of the Mexico national team games -- have made it a strong destination for Hispanic soccer fans -- a trend from which MLS is benefiting.

According to Univision, the UniMas MLS regular-season viewer had a median age of 38 years, younger than the MLS viewer on ESPN2 (40 years), NBCSN (41 years), NBC (46 years), ESPN (43 years).

MLS Cup Viewers (English-language)
2013: 505,000 (ESPN)
2012: 797,000 (ESPN)
2011: 1,039,000 (ESPN)
2010: 748,000 (ESPN)
2009: 1,141,000 (ESPN)
2008: 907,000 (ABC)
2007: 1,097,000 (ABC)
2006: 1,245,000 (ABC)
2005: 1,137,000 (ABC)
2004: n/a (ABC)
2003: 876,000 (ABC)
2002: 1,169,000 (ABC)

MLS Cup Viewers (Spanish-language)
2013: 514,000 (UniMas)
2012: 485,000 (*TeleFutura)
2011: 307,000(Galavision)
2010: 232,000 (Galavision)
*Rebranded UniMas in 2013.
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  1. Brian Something
    commented on: December 10, 2013 at 5:46 p.m.
    Put it on the biggest college football day of the year and that's what you get.
  1. Terry Ellis
    commented on: December 10, 2013 at 5:56 p.m.
    Also having on a channel that is not available to anyone who doesn't have cable or satellite limits those who watch it! I could care less about the football but would have watched it on a online stream or major broadcast. It wasn't available either way. I would guess that Monday night football viewers are off compared with broadcast as well. Haven't watched Monday night football since it went to ESPN.
  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: December 10, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.
    Perhaps if ESPN and NBC replaced the European commentors, who feel it necessary to talk nomstop about little of relevance to the game being played, with Americans who will call the game that's taking place on the field, more people would tune in and watch. I find it very hard to listen to games now with the continuous queen's english accented chatter and gossip. And then I miss a comment that actually applies to the action on the field.
  1. Che Guevara
    commented on: December 10, 2013 at 6:36 p.m.
    This is still a reflection of what audience MLS teams should be targeting more aggressively. Are you telling me that the Hispanic audience has a bigger budget than non Hispanics ??
  1. Didi P
    commented on: December 11, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.
    I asked many players and their parents on a pre-academy team from a big soccer club (in other words, these guys are very serious about soccer and most will join U14 academy team next year), not one said he watches MLS game. They all said the quality of play is so bad that MLS is absolutely unwatchable. If MLS wants people to watch its games, do select some players who have a little bit of skills and soccer brains. Most people don't want to watch butchers and goons.

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