English Soccer Game Breaks Viewership Records

By Noah Davis 

In television terms, 438,000 homes might not sound like a lot. But when you’re talking about an English Premier Leagues Soccer match – in the middle of a Monday, no less – that number breaks records in America.

Last Monday’s Barclays Premier League match, a 1-0 home win for Manchester United over Arsenal, was seen on ESPN2 by an average of 438,000 homes (570,000 viewers, P2+), making it the most-watched Premiership telecast on U.S. cable television, according to Nielsen. The telecast outdelivered the previous high – 420,000 homes (526,000 viewers) for Manchester United vs. Chelsea on Saturday, April 3, 2010.

On the year, ESPN’s EPL telecasts are up 50 percent in ratings, delivering a 0.3. But there is cause for concern.While the EPL broadcasts are faring well, they outpace Major League Soccer telecasts by an average of 30 percent (324,000 viewers to 249,000 viewers).

The domestic league continues to improve on the field and attract sponsorship money, but it’s struggling to gain television viewers. The number was actually down 12.3 percent from the previous season. MLS isn’t in financial trouble, but it needs to improve its television audience if it ever hopes to realize aspirations of becoming one of the world’s best leagues.

Back to the EPL: Who wants to bet that Mon, Dec 27ths Arsenal/Chelsea match sets a new record?