MLS sets a new record, as it continues to close gap on NFL

The MLS invades NFL’s Sunday afternoon time slot and sets a new TV ratings record in addition to showcase the return of a legend.

MLS and TV have not always had the best relationship. For years the TV contracts hopped between locations with little cross promotion with the deals were shared. Sometimes only one match a week would be on TV and at 11 PM ET. NBCSN tried their hand recently and could not get their EPL success to translate.

Then came MLS Soccer Sunday! On most given weeks fans could expect a double-header across the ESPN and FOX networks. There was finally a set time frame which MLS fans could plan around that the the league could promote.


The MLS has been averaging between 200k and 250k viewers throughout the season across the primary three networks (including Unimas Friday nights). While this season is still in process, those numbers look to receive a sizable bump – a 20-40% increase from the 2015 season based on the network. Then came this past weekend and a perfect storm of factors helped boost the MLS to a new high. (1) The games aired on the main FOX network rather than cable’s FS1, (2) The matches were paired with NFL games either before or after, based on the market, & (3) Landon Donovan was back with was increasing the press coverage. Of all that led to a 1.3 million viewer rating for the matches.

via GIPHY
 The previous records before that were the following:

3rd place – 539k for the debut of NYCFC at Orlando to kick off the 2015 season.

2nd place – 616k for Seattle vs. NYCFC this summer

1st place – 1 million on Univision for the California Clasico, LA Galaxy vs. San Jose. This aired directly after the USA vs. Columbia Cope America match.

In under two months time we will be able to fully analyze the 2016 regular season TV numbers. But regardless this is another step forward toward solidify MLS as not only a top league in the world, but a top drawing league in the US. If you love soccer and live in the US you should be watching these matches and helping grow the market. If you aren’t, then don’t complain about the MLS.