Commentary

ESPN2 viewers down for exciting MLS opener

By Paul Kennedy

The first game of the 2013 MLS season on ESPN2 was a showcase for all that is exciting about MLS. It's isn't every day that you have a 3-3 tie, and you can't beat the atmosphere at Jeld-Wen Field.

But Sunday night's Portland-New York opener drew only 221,000 viewers -- down 34 percent from the 337,000 viewers for the 2012 opener on ESPN2, a Monday night game between Portland, again the host team, and Philadelphia.

According to ESPN, the 20 MLS regular-season telecasts on ESPN and ESPN in 2012 averaged 311,000 viewers, up 7 percent from the average of 292,000 viewers in 2011. It does not break the audiences down between ESPN and ESPN2.

MORE TV NUMBERS. Staying in the Northwest, the numbers were better for the Seattle-Montreal game on Seattle's local NBC affiliate. The broadcast peaked with a rating of 4.4 (percentage of households) and share of 9 (percentage viewing households) in the second half. (h/t @SonOfTheBronx)
 
MLS LIVE GROWS. Chris Schlosser, general manager of MLS Digital, tweeted that MLS Live subscriptions were up 131 percent for the first weekend of the 2013 season as compared to last season.

WORTH READING. SI.com's Grant Wahl ranks the 50 most powerful people in U.S. soccer. They're not all individuals. No. 1 is U.S. Sports TV executives.  U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber are 2-3. Six players are on the list, in order, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Thierry Henry, Abby Wambach, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.

NY2 LOBBYING BILLS. How important is the MLS project to bring a 20th team to New York's Flushing Meadows-Corona Park? The Daily News reported MLS spent more money on registered lobbyists in 2012 than anyone in New York. The $1.7 million included $1.1 million to HR&A Advisors and $190,804 to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, MLS's real estate advisers and real estate lawyers, respectively. MLS spokeswoman Risa Heller told the Daily News "out of an abundance of caution, they registered [as lobbyists] because they are occasionally in meetings where lobbying takes place." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made NY2 a priority project in the city.
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