There were five soccer matches on television Wednesday night between three of the major sports networks. This is obviously a sign of America’s greater moral decay, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry than that. Here are the ratings numbers for those five games on Wednesday (H/T @Seidman).
1. Manchester United vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (FS1): 308,000 viewers
2. Sporting Kansas City vs. Manchester City (ESPN2): 297,000 viewers
3. Toronto FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur (ESPN2): 189,000 viewers
4. Liverpool vs. AS Roma (NBCSN): 140,000 viewers
5. San Jose vs. Chicago (NBCSN): 67,000 viewers
Not exactly sparkling news for MLS that the only match with any real meaning to it was lowest on the totem pole, but hey, it was a late game with a low lead-in. MLS ratings are what they are until the new contract begins in 2015. That’s not what’s interesting.
That Fox Sports 1 beat ESPN2’s matches certainly is. Now, to be fair, Manchester United are the most famous club on earth, and LA Galaxy probably have the best brand awareness of any American club. Not to mention Fox Sports 1 beat ESPN and ESPN2 in primetime (8-11 p.m. ET, i.e. the lead-in to this game) with NCWTS racing, which drew a stout 873,000 viewers. Still, you don’t expect racing and soccer to crossover much, so this is still impressive.
As far as the actual broadcasts, ESPN and NBCSN were their usual professional selves. I though NBCSN did an excellent job at trying to sell the scenery and pageantry that the combo of Fenway Park and a Liverpool match did. Also, letting Daniel Sturridge more or less vamp for five minutes to fill time was unexpectedly great towards the end of the broadcasts.
Fox Sports 1 had a rough night because of social media reaction to their camera angle. They did switch it up at halftime, though by then the PR damage had been done. One person I was impressed with was Rob Stone, who returned to game-calling after I hadn’t heard him call a match in quite sometime. If the network were to give him his expected big role for both their coverage of MLS and upcoming FIFA events, viewers might be willing to let Fox have a minute to sort out their problems elsewhere.
Regardless, what a cool little night for soccer fans across this country. A chance to see some of the best teams on the planet face off against MLS clubs with fan bases amped to show the rest of the world that they can bring it. Maybe the results on the field weren’t great, but overall, it got people talking about soccer outside the World Cup, which is a win.