[SOCCER ON THE AIR]
Both ESPN and NBCSN experienced a big jump in viewers for their 2014 MLS regular-season broadcasts as compared to those during the 2013 season.
Average viewers were up 9 percent for ESPN and ESPN2 combined, while the jump on NBCSN was 27 percent. ESPN/ESPN2
Combined Viewership YEAR AVG. (GAMES) 2006
(25 on ESPN2)
251,000 (27 on ESPN2) 2009
299,000 (1 on ESPN, 25 on ESPN2) 2010
253,000 (1 on ESPN, 25
on ESPN2) 2011
292,000 (4 on ESPN, 17 on ESPN2) 2012
311,000 (10 on ESPN, 10 on ESPN2) 2013
220,000 (7 on ESPN, 13 on ESPN2) 2014
240,000 (1 on ESPN, 17 on ESPN2) ESPN2 Viewership YEAR AVG.
225 000 ESPN Deportes Viewership YEAR AVG.
While these numbers, which come
in the final year of MLS's existing agreements with its media partners, are encouraging, they are tempered by several factors.
-- ESPN aired only 18 games, and just one on its flagship
network, ESPN, in 2014. That's the fewest games its aired during the current term of the eight-year agreement that expires at the end of the year.
According to ESPN, the household U.S.
rating held steady at 0.2 -- for a statistical increase of 1 percent -- while the average P2+ viewers jumped from 220,000 a game to 240,000 a game for an increase of 9 percent.
only one game on ESPN, down from seven in 2013, putting the increase in viewerships for the MLS broadcasts on ESPN2 alone at roughly 15 percent.
According to ESPN, the average viewers on
ESPN Deportes, while still modest, jumped 31 percent to 42,000 a game.
The ESPN figures do not include the AT&T All-Star Game in which the MLS all-stars beat Bayern Munich, 2-1. The
863,000 viewers on ESPN2, the most for any all-star game ever on ESPN or
ESPN2. NBCSN Viewership YEAR AVG.
This is the last year of MLS's agreement with NBC Sports Group, which has been able to boost its MLS viewership to record numbers because of the lead-in from its coverage of the English Premier
The 2014 MLS season was the first that began and ended during the 2014 season, and the 17 games NBCSN aired on Saturdays or Sundays during EPL weekends averaged 173,000
As a matter of comparison, all other broadcasts -- during the summer, on Friday nights and one Saturday during the September FIFA fixture weekend -- averaged just 116,000
Looking ahead ...
In 2015, Univision networks will air a Friday night game of the week, while Fox and ESPN will each air a game on Sunday nights.
NBCSN's series of 17 Friday night broadcasts that began on July 4 averaged 115,000.
ESPN2 aired five Sunday night games since the start of the NFL season, and they've averaged 178,000
Both Friday and Sunday nights remain tough nights for programmers to break into, Friday because it is traditionally a low viewing night and Sunday because of the host of popular
series on networks like HBO, Showtime and AMC.