The English Premier has finished its second full week on NBC and NBCSN, and besides a few technological glitches, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. The matches have been entertaining, but the highest profile game yet was Manchester United-Chelsea on Monday afternoon. NBCSN boasted great numbers for Monday's Red vs. Blue game, which was watched by 536,000 viewers on NBCSN.
This is a subhead on an NBC press release: "NBC Sports Network Telecast Posts Second-Best Viewership All-Time for Early Season, Weekday Premier League Match." While that quote has qualifiers galore and kind of reads like a 30 Rock line ("Lemon, in certain lights you're an 8, using East Coast, over 35 standards, excluding Miami."), it is a good sign for NBC. This number of viewers is second only to Manchester United-Tottenham, which drew 540,000 when it aired on Aug. 22, 2011 on ESPN2.
The interest in the Premier League in America is clearly growing. People are figuring out where NBCSN is on their television guide, and a game between two giant clubs that ended in a scoreless draw and aired at 3 p.m. ET on a Monday, was watched by hundreds of thousands.
While the game itself was a bit boring, all of the intriguing story lines were present and the reasons to watch were still there: Wayne Rooney's increasing discontentment, Chelsea trying to go six points ahead of United in the table and new United manager David Moyes' first home game at Old Trafford and first game against "the Special One," Chelsea's new, yet old, manager Jose Mourinho.
"Among Men 18-34, NBCSN’s Premier League average audience (147,000) topped all Monday sporting events – finishing +18% above the second-most watched telecast in the demo (Cincinnati-St. Louis MLB game in primetime on ESPN; 125,000 average viewers)," per the press release.
With unparalleled coverage and a level of analysis that doesn't dumb down the product, NBC has found its niche. This high ratings record for Manchester United-Chelsea will only increase as the season progresses and fans find when and where their teams' games are being broadcast. NBCSN has had trouble finding ratings for shows that don't involve hunting or fishing, so this deluge of viewers will provide great comfort to a network that needs all the attention it can get.