NBCSN's recent MLS coverage enjoys huge viewership bump

By Paul Kennedy

Saturday's LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders game averaged 247,000 viewers, making it the most-watched MLS game of the year on the network.

It bumped the average for the last eight MLS games on NBCSN to 142,000 per game, up 60 percent from the average of 89,000 for the same eight games in 2012.

Those eight games happen to coincide with the start of the English Premier League season, its first on NBCSN and the other NBC networks. An EPL effect? Not entirely. Strong playoff races, particularly in the Western Conference with popular teams like the Sounders, Galaxy, Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake in action, have helped. Friday night -- an off day for the EPL -- has done surprisingly well as the four Friday games over the last month have averaged 153,000 per game.

NBCSN is averaging 111,000 per game for 31 MLS games. It has seven games to catch up to its final regular-season average of 122,000 on NBCSN in 2012. It would need to average 170,000 viewers per game to catch the 2012 average, but that's unlikely as two of the three remaining Friday night games involve last-place D.C. United, and of the big four Western Conference teams, only Seattle is scheduled (twice) in the last seven matches.

It should be pointed again that five 2012 MLS broadcasts took place during the London Olympics when NBCSN drew record audiences. Benefiting from the lead-ins of Olympic coverage, the five MLS games averaged 286,000 viewers. If you throw those five games out, the MLS average for 2012 would have been 99,000 viewers.

SOBERING NUMBERS. A few viewing figures from last weekend underscore, though, just how far MLS still has to go on the television front.

Sunday's Manchester derby between City and United was watched by an average of 852,000 viewers on NBCSN, the network's largest audience to date for its EPL coverage and more than three times the size of the audience for the Galaxy-Sounders game.

Aaron Levine, the sports director of Seattle's Q13 FOX, tweeted the Sea-Tac ratings for Saturday sports events:

Sea-Tac Ratings:
4.1 Washington-Idaho State (college football)
2.6 Washington State-Idaho (college football)
1.8 LA Galaxy-Sounders (MLS)
1.6 Mariners-Angeles (MLB)

VIVE LE BASKET! The France-Lithuania final for the Eurobasket 2013 championship outdrew the much-anticipated Ligue 1 match between big-spending clubs Paris St. Germain and Monaco by more than 3-1 on French television.

France's first European basketball title drew an average of 5,467,000 viewers on France 2 and Canal+Sport while PSG-Monaco on Canal+ averaged 1,674,000, which was nonetheless the second largest audience for a Ligue 1 match so far this season.

AYSO ON THE EMMYS. Did you catch Will Farrell's appearance on the Emmys with his three sons in tow? His appearance drew some of the biggest laughs of the evening as he explained they had come straight from soccer and didn't have time to find child care. Talk about good product placement: older sons Magnus and Mattias were wearing AYSO 50th anniversary jerseys.
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