Bill Simmons Solves MLS Cup's Ratings Problem

By Noah Davis 

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Ratings for MLS Cup, Major League Soccer’s championship match, fell in 2010. According to Sports Media Watch, “The Rapids’ championship-winning victory over FC Dallas earned a 0.5 overnight rating on ESPN Sunday night, down 44 percent from last year (RSL/LA: 0.9, ESPN), and down 29 percent from 2008 (CMB/NY: 0.7, ABC).”

In his Tuesday afternoon chat, Bill Simmons provided a solution:

You need to stop putting your semifinal and Final playoff games head to head against Sunday night NFL. it’s a suicide mission. Schedule those games for Tuesday nights when there’s no football and you’re only going against NFL. You will never, ever, not EVER gain traction in America in any conceivable way by going head to head against the NFL. It’s idiotic. it couldn’t be dumber. That MLS Cup final was really exciting (especially the last 20 minutes of extra time, and yes, I was toggling between that and the Eagles game) and nobody saw it.

But going against the NFL is only part of the problem.This season’s final suffered from a lack of star power. FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids were solid teams, but lacked any big names to draw in casual viewers.

The 2009 final featured Landon Dononvan, David Beckham, and the rest of the glamorous Los Angeles Galaxy. This year was supposed to be the season when the New York Red Bulls – featuring world stars Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez – broke through and reached the final. They didn’t. Ratings suffered as a result.

So don’t go against the NFL (although having the final on a Tuesday night would be silly as well). And also figure out some way for New York and Los Angeles to make the final every year. Problem solved.