By Paul Kennedy
ESPN will launch ESPN FC -- its first soccer highlights studio show airing in the United States -- on Aug. 11. The show will air Sunday-Friday, primarily on ESPN2.
“Soccer’s popularity is at an all-time high in the United States as fans are now more familiar with the world’s top players, marquee clubs and national teams," said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president for programming. "ESPN FC on TV continues our leadership role in coverage of the sport across all media."
Sunday editions of ESPN FC will be a one-hour program, while the show will air 30 minutes each day Monday through Friday. No time for the show was announced, but it will likely be in the late afternoon, as opposed to late at night, to avoid prime-time conflicts.
A Sunday-Friday late afternoon air time would make midday European matches the center of attention on match days. Most MLS games are on Saturdays or in the evenings on other games. The show could provide a nice promotional tie-in to MLS games on ESPN and ESPN2.
The new ESPN soccer show will replace the ESPN FC Press Pass, the global soccer discussion program on ESPNEWS, in the United States.
MLS ATTENDANCE WATCH. MLS's preference for weekend dates over midweek dates was evident last week as the nine weekend games averaged 18,821 fans a game, more than 64 percent higher than the average of 11,468 fans a game on Wednesday when the crowds for all six games were below season averages.
The Week 11 weekend crowds were boosted by the fact that all three Cascadia teams were playing at home.
MLS is averaging 17,053 fans a game through Week 11 (100 games), down 9 percent from the average of 18,592 fans a game through Week 11 in 2012. Its 2012 season average of 18,807 set a league record.
MLS Attendance, Week 11 Weekend:
39,880 Seattle-San Jose
21,000 Vancouver-LA Galaxy
20,674 Portland-Chivas USA
19,004 Houston-Sporting KC
16,440 New England-New York
14,578 Montreal-Real Salt Lake
14,322 FC Dallas-D.C. United
MLS Attendance, Week 11 Midweek:
18,602 Sporting KC-Seattle
11,892 New York-Montreal
10,116 D.C. United-Houston
10,112 FC Dallas-Portland
10,048 San Jose-Toronto FC
8,040 New England-Real Salt Lake
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