Major League Soccer’s opening weekend wasn’t just a hit on the field and in the stands – it scored big in the TV department, too.
All four opening weekend national TV games had strong ratings. Sunday’s inaugural match between expansion clubs Orlando City SC and New York City FC was the headliner, with ESPN2 averaging 539,000 viewers during the broadcast, over 100,000 more than any regular season match on the network last year.
Fox Sports 1 also put up solid numbers, averaging 268,000 viewers for Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls before drawing a 289,000 average in the Seattle Sounders-New England Revolution nightcap. Both games marked a huge improvement on NBCSN’s 2014 average of 141,000 viewers per broadcast.
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UniMas’ broadcast of Friday’s season opener between the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire put up even bigger numbers than Fox, drawing an average of 341,000 viewers for the 10 pm ET kick. The match – which included an English SAP option – outdrew NBCSN’s 2014 season opener and was the most-viewed MLS match ever among non-Hispanics on a Spanish-language network.
All three networks will broadcast one match this weekend, with UniMas showing Orlando City’s first-ever road game on Friday at 7 pm ET at the Houston Dynamo, ESPN2 broadcasting NYCFC’s home opener at 5 pm ET on Sunday against New England and Fox Sports 1 showing LA’s road date at Portland at 7 pm ET on Sunday.