Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Much has been made recently about the decline in viewers of regular season Major League Soccer matches on National TV, but according to the Sports Business Journal, MLS has a long way to go before it breaks into the living rooms of your average American.
Though this season’s numbers weren’t aided by being scheduled alongside the European Championships like in 2012 or the World Cup in 2010, the SBJ says in a report that regular season Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) games on national television earned higher viewership on average than MLS games.
The SBJ says that MLS’ average numbers on ESPN/ESPN2 (220,000) and NBC Sports Network (112,000) were lower than NCAA Softball games, IndyCar races, the X Games, and even the Solheim Cup, an international golf tournament that was televised last August on the Golf Channel. The SBJ points out that due to soccer’s traditional weekend schedule, their games were primarily outside of the primetime hours while the WNBA games were normally during the week in primetime.
In June, MLS hired Television veteran Gary Stevenson from the Pac-12 Networks to be president & managing director of MLS Business Ventures. It’s thought that the hiring was to help MLS renegotiate their national television deals, which all end following the 2014 season. Currently the league has deals with ESPN (eight years, $64 million from 2006) NBC (three years, $30 million from 2011), and Univision (eight years, $80 million from 2006) for U.S. broadcasts, and MP & Silva for international broadcasts.
The SBJ reported last August that this fall, MLS would begin talks with their television partners over new deals starting in 2015.
What do you think of this report? Surprised at the numbers? Do you believe that the World Cup next summer can give the league a boost in ratings?
Share your thoughts below.