Major League Soccer’s television ratings on ESPN and ESPN2 have increased 32 percent in viewers and 44 percent in television homes over last year, according to the network. And viewership is up 127 percent on the WatchESPN app and 44 percent on ESPN Deportes.
“As we enter the All Star break, we are delighted to see such substantial year-over-year gains in audience across ESPN platforms and in key demographics for Major League Soccer,’’ Scott Guglielmino, ESPN’s senior vice president for programming and acquisitions, said. “We look forward to continue working with Major League Soccer to keep up the momentum as we enter a very busy fall sports calendar.’’
According to ESPN, MLS games on ESPN and ESPN2 have delivered an average audience of 312,000 viewers (227,000 household impressions), compared to 235,000 viewers and 158,000 household impressions up to the same point in 2015. An average of 46,000 viewers have watched matches on ESPN Deportes this year, compared to 32,000 in 2015, and the average minute audience to date for games on WatchESPN is 12,000 this year, compared to 5,000 in 2015. Spanish language telecasts on WatchESPN had an average of 20 percent increase in the average minute audience in 2016 over 2015.
In addition, viewership is up in key demographic categories, the network said. Viewership on ESPN/ESPN2 is up 22 percent among men 18-34 in 2016 (66,000, compared to 54,000) and up 13 percent for men 18-49. Among Hispanic viewers viewership on ESPN/ESPN2 is up 14 percent overall and eight percent in the men 18-34.
Two of the three highest-rated ESPN/ESPN2 matches involved Seattle Sounders FC. Their match against NYCFC on June 25 had a 0.4 rating, being watched by 616,000 viewers in 455,000 households and their July 9 match against LA Galaxy also had a 0.4 rating, drawing 536,000 viewers in 421,000 households. The third-highest viewership was for the Portland Timbers-Vancouver Whitecaps match May 22. That one had a 0.3 rating, drawing 463,000 viewers in 324,000 households.
ESPN will televise Thursday’s 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif, featuring a team of MLS All Stars against English Premier League team Arsenal FC. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and the match will be streamed on WatchESPN. Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman will call the match, with sideline reporter Monica Gonzalez. Max Bretos will host the network’s studio coverage, including a half-hour pregame show that will air on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m., with analysts Alejandro Moreno and Kasey Keller. Richard Mendez and Giovanni Savarese will provide Spanish language commentary on ESPN International networks. Viewers can also see the game on UniMás, TSN and RDS.