ESPN2's MLS viewership hits low with Fire game

For the second straight week, the Chicago Fire drew the lowest viewership for an MLS game on English-language television -- so low that Fox Sports 1 beat out ESPN2 for the first time this the season.

The 211,000 viewers for RSL-TFC were the highest on FSI since the opening weekend of the season.

The 152,000 viewers who tuned in to the Fire-Union match marked the third week in a row the audience has declined on ESPN2, down 72 percent in Week 4 from the Orlando City-NYCFC season opener.

ESPN2 is still up 4 percent through the first four games compared to last season's first four games. In 2014, its MLS national coverage did not begin until the end of May.

2015 MLS Viewerships:
325,500 UniMas (2 games)
307,500 ESPN 2 (4 games)
219,800 Fox Sports 1 (5 games)

Week 4 Viewers:
Real Salt Lake-Toronto FC (Fox Sports 1)
152,000 Chicago-Philadelphia (ESPN2)
Average: 181,500.

Week 3 Viewers:
NY Red Bulls-D.C. United (ESPN2)
134,000 Portland-LA Galaxy (Fox Sports 1)
Average: 192,000.

Week 2 Viewers:
310,000 Houston-Orlando City (UniMas)
289,000 New York City-New England (ESPN2)
197,000 Portland-LA Galaxy (Fox Sports 1)
Average: 265,333.

Week 1 Viewers:
539,000 Orlando City-New York City (ESPN2)
341,000 LA Galaxy-Chicago (UniMas)
289,000 Seattle-New England (Fox Sports 1)
268,000 Sporting KC-NY Red Bulls (Fox Sports 1)
Average: 359,250.
7 comments about "ESPN2's MLS viewership hits low with Fire game".
  1. Gus Keri, April 1, 2015 at 9:11 a.m.

    ESPN and FS1 should change their policy for national broadcasts of MLS games. American audience outside the specific club market will only watch the game if there is s superstar in the game, like Kaka, Keane, Villa, etc.. Pre-scheduling games to be fair to all clubs doesn't make any business sense.

  2. Paul Lorinczi, April 1, 2015 at 4:42 p.m.

    It was a terrible game and a waste of 90 minutes of my life. Since Hauptmann has taken over, the Fire have gone downhill. The 2nd game was much better.

  3. Jeffrey Organ, April 1, 2015 at 6:09 p.m.

    Don't know about everyone else, but I also found the missing internationals to be a significant reason why I found it hard to get excited this past weekend. Combined with key players lost to injuries, the missing international call ups contributed to a quality of play that was mediocre at best across the league.

    I have heard the stated reasons why league play must continue on FIFA sanctioned breaks. Regardless of the merit in these arguments, the league has to figure out a way to shut down during these breaks. This last weekend's sad quality of play and the lack of general interest was a clear demonstrated reason why.

  4. Mike Jacome, April 2, 2015 at 2:11 a.m.

    Jeffrey organ. You are right, at first i was very excited about the Salt Lake-Toronto game, then I remembered that neither Altidore nor Bradley will make the game and my excitement diminished somewhat. I still watched the game and I was genuinely entertained. I also watched the first half of Chicago - Philly and got to say: Why are picking a game like this to broadcast nationally ??? We had great games this weekend even ith the missing internationals... Why not Vancouver - Portland? or Montreal - Orlando? Both were great games. or even Dallas - Seattle which was not good but sounded really appealing on the paper...But Chicago - Philly...Really?? On the other hand I agree with MLS to keep playing during FIFA international weekends, the play quality, TV rankings and attendance might suffer, but not as much as if they were to reschedule for midweek.

  5. John DiFiore, April 2, 2015 at 3:01 a.m.

    Still up 4% YOY, is a pretty good increase in most businesses, especially when you (ESPN) do little to nothing to promote the sport. I'm so tired of NOT seeing soccer on SportsCenter... At least FOX gets it....

  6. Phil Hardy, April 2, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.

    All good comments. We pay to watch stars. Imagine how the ticket holders felt, forget we TV viewers.

    MLS still, after 20 years, has so many areas in which it needs to clue in.

    It's just business. And if they want to grow their business on TV they need to put the best product on TV week in and week out.

    And if your club can't fill the stands, you don't belong on TV.

  7. Mike Jacome, April 2, 2015 at 3:59 p.m.

    One more thing i forgot to mention is where can we get the information about MLS Live viewership? I have MLS Live and I know at least two more people who have MLS Live membership and watch several games per week. Do this viewers account for anything in the whole scheme of things? If viewrship is so important for advertisement purposes, why during commercial breaks on the original broadcast MLS Live give as an still message "Your game will resume soon", Staring to a blank message bores me, I would rather watch some commercials.

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