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Soccer on TV

Report: WNBA games averaged more viewers this year than MLS

Robbie Keane, Leonardo Gonzalez

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.

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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.

236 comments
  • the original jb

    This comes as no surprise to me and is a result of the horrible scheduling. I am more than a casual soccer fan and have wanted all season to try and catch more MLS matches, and have largely failed. Why? I am not going to pay an extra fee for MLS live or whatever mostly because I don’t have time to watch enough to make it worth it. Like everyone else says, it’s hard to figure out when a match is actually on, and when it is, it is usually a crappy team like DC (sorry DC fans). And the most irritating thing for me on the east coast is that the more exciting teams in the west (RSL, galaxy, seattle, Portland) have games that don’t start until 10 or 11pm! I am not in college anymore and simply cant stay up that late.

    Solutions:
    1. flex scheduling
    2. pick a consistent timeslot
    3. start the west coast games earlier – I know this may annoy hardcore fans who go to these games but if we want the league to grow you HAVE to get these better teams on tv where the entire country can watch!

    Like

    • wandmdave

      I have MLS Live and I’d add that having it is still not a 100% guarantee you can watch every game. Games that are natonally broadcast are blacked out from MLS Live. That is all well and good for games on NBC and for most people its all well and good if its on ESPN as well. However I’m not sure NBCSC is part of a basic cable package and Univision steals about one game a week which can then only be seen in Spanish even when you have MLS Live due to the blackout. Not very cool.

      Like

    • Gary Page

      I have the Direct TV sports package and even without the MLS package I can watch at least about 3 MLS games a weekend. What with the games from Europe, I could be watching 60 to 70 hours a week of soccer. As big a a soccer fan as I am, even I get tired of it sometimes.

      Like

  • Yevgeniy

    Also, this ignores ESPN Deportes figures which would easily tip the scales in favor of MLS. Unimas average was 229,000 for the year.

    Like

  • wandmdave

    Pretty much everything people have posted contributes to the low numbers but my guess is the main cause is lack of a consistent schedule. If they picked a time slot and always had 1 or 2 games on Saturday after the last BPL match came on I’d watch both, no question. As is games can be at a number of times and days and I’m not sure there is a guarantee that there will even be one nationally aired game each week (that isn’t on Univision at least; sorry no habla espanol).

    I’m sure its not an easy problem to fix because of the networks wanting to air other sports on weekends during the day and due to scheduling conflicts in stadiums but it really needs to get fixed to allow people who aren’t completely hardcore MLS fans (and how to become a hardcore fan without starting out as a casual one) or who aren’t living in an MLS market to catch regular games easily.

    Like

  • Mike R

    Ouch!

    WNBA is crapola and those women are hideous !!
    The again watching MLS hack a man is crapola compared to most other leagues.
    I support my local team out of love of soccer but can’t bring myself to watch the hack a man unimagintive league with low skilled players when other teams are playing. Heck I really don’t even enjoy my teams games.

    Playing a nicer styles and having more skilled players will lead to better viewership. Expanded the league to where the talent is so watered down and hacks can still find a place in a starting lineup will not help

    Like

  • dan

    The major problem no one seems to consider is the fact that TV viewership is all about fans in other cities caring enough to watch other teams, or for people in cities without MLS attach to an MLS team somewhere else. Getting supporters from other parts of the country for the teams seems to be a high priority.

    Like

    • scottishkyle

      I agree about the problem of caring about other teams and games other than my own home team. It is one of the reasons I don’t like the 3 games in one’s conference and only one against the other. If we played each team home and away, we would build up favorites and hated opponents. We would also care about all the other games being played, but when it is mostly (3 to 1)intraconference games, we don’t care about or watch games in the other conference since they only rarely affect our situation in the conference standings. Unfortunately, the growth in the teams to 24 precludes the two (home-away) approach. I hope that at least, we will home-away in the conference and 1 game against all of the other conference. Hope they do not go for a three or four division situation which would make it a lot worse.

      Like

  • Ben

    Lack of consistent schedule and the difficultly of local broadcasts. Are the KC games widely available in Missouri / Kansas? Can Salt Lake be seen through all of Utah? Still, people read too much into this. The fact is the NBA gets to go to bat for the WNBA, especially concerning TV interests. MLS does not have a larger, more powerful entity helping them.

    Like

  • Boyd

    It’s not only WNBA.

    “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.”

    My guess is that since MLS games are not on TV not so many people watch it.

    Like

  • Kingsly Alexander

    God ppl, there’s a job to be done you know. I DVR every televised match, whether I intend to watch it or not. If I don’t watch I delete, but it counts the same.

    Get to it!

    Like

      • wandmdave

        As Bryan said you need to be a “Nielson Family” and I’m pretty sure Nielson has a second, less lucrative category for time shifted viewing (as opposed to watching as it airs) and even then it only counts shows that are watched within 3 days of the air date so all those ones you didn’t get to watching wouldn’t count.

        Like

  • BamaMan

    Too many MLS fans treat the league like a charity. MLS has a bunch of billionaire owners who, unlike their Euro counterparts, are unwilling to take the risk of relegation in their investment. The league is (like the bad old NASL) increasingly reliant on expansion fees to make ends meet. In the big markets, MLS is an afterthought at best (does anyone doubt that LAG or NYRB aren’t the most popular soccer clubs in their local markets?). The small markets clubs (sometimes) have great atmosphere and attendance but little outside appeal.

    I’m a neutral soccer fan. I want to follow MLS. It’s as though the league goes out of its way to turn me off. The model is there in the Bundesliga and J-League for a successful league. Play fall-spring; take a winter break; have secure finances but focus on player development; consistent scheduling; and take your domestic cup competition seriously.

    Set aside pro/rel (I think it’s the one thing that would draw in otherwise uncommitted fans, but I digress). For one year, let’s get back to balanced schedule; let’s try single-table. Let’s try fall-spring with a winter break (Heck, just follow the German schedule exactly, including when they play DFB-Pokal games). Let’s get a consistent tv schedule going (maybe a Friday night marquee game; Saturday afternoon games in NFL markets; Sunday afternoon games in non-NFL markets?). Just a thought.

    Like

    • Hal

      +1

      spot on. I think there are so many soccer fans in the US that think like this. The problem is whenever someone says something this they get called a “euro snob” by MLS homers.

      Like

      • Yevgeniy

        It’s definitely better to see this tan someone saying “Mickey Mouse League” without any explanation. If you are not watching now, I don’t understand why a switch to Fall-Spring will make you watch? This can’t possibly be a turn-off. Consistent scheduling – I agree. Single table just doesn’t work in US and you definitely can’t make it work with 20+ teams that we will have shortly.

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      • Hal

        calling MLS a mickey mouse league is not an argument. I agree. But saying “single table just doesn’t work in the US” is also not an argument.

        I don’t think its just one thing that turns soccer fans off of MLS. It’s not just the schedule. It’s the accumulation of everything. I’ve tried to get into MLS but I can’t.And I talk to a lot of soccer fans (I’m involved in my local American Outlaws charter) and the complaints about the league are not just “if they would only do X then I would watch.” it’s the accumulation of everything: parity that harms the quality, salary cap that harms the quality, lack of free agency that would bring interest to the off-season, drafts, pointless regular season, playoffs, unwillingness to implement a long term plan for promotion/relegation (99% of soccer leagues on the planet have it), discovery claims, bad scheduling. The list goes on and on.

        Soccer fans are tuning out the league. Do you want to know why?

        Like

      • Yevgeniy

        It’s not unreasonable. However, I am pretty sure that if you or one of your AO brothers sat down with someone who follows MLS as closely as I do and took the time to discuss all these things, you would realize that there are valid reasons for all thins that MLS does. I may disagree with some of them, but at some point I have to also respect that there are dozens of smart people who are in charge and they know more than I do. For example, a single table with 21 teams assumes 40 games a year. It’s just not doable. Average MLS team already travels about 20 times more per season than average EPL team. You can’t just ignore things like this. 99% of soccer leagues in the world don’t have 90% of constraints that MLS has.

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      • Northzax

        Also, let’s not forget that 99% of leagues in the world are pretty bad.

        I don’t understand why people say pro-rel will bring in viewers. That many folks burning to watch Orlando and the Cosmos get spanked around for a season?

        People with reasons like ‘no single table’ or ‘no pro-rep’ as their justifications for not watching MLS are not being honest with themselves. And that’s fine. I’d rather watch Bayern-Arsenal than Galaxy-Sounders any day. Who wouldn’t? I confess, I don’t watch a lot of MLS on TV, but I am a sth at rfk, frankly, there is too much soccer on TV, that’s a good problem to have but MLS is competing with the noise from the big leagues, who frankly put on an often better show.

        So it’s enough right now, support your local (or favorite) club. Buy some tickets and a jersey. Watch their televised games. Watch the playoffs. (Seriously, do that) but a midweek Colorado-New England game? Eh.

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      • Hal

        single table might be more difficult now that they are going over 20 teams. But they never should have gone over 20 teams.

        People have crunched the numbers on travel with balanced schedule vs unbalanced and if you double up games, meaning a road trips of a saturday game vs LA and Wed vs Chivas (and did this with other cities) you would be adding roughly 4k miles to travel depending on the team.

        Like

      • Mueller

        Parity and salary cap are only bad because the league is small. If you support the league now so that it grows parity could be great.

        I still always envision MLS more like other US leagues than Euro Leagues. You get 32 teams with $50million+ payrolls and the league could be great. All of a sudden a lot of the top players are here playing.

        The problem is it takes time and patience. Americans want a great league now but they don’t want to support it now while it isn’t as good as the Euro Leagues. The problem is if you don’t support it now it never becomes great because you aren’t going to get the owners to operate at a loss forever. If we as fans want a league here, we have to invest in it, and one of the ways we do that is by watching them on TV.

        Like

  • Ali Dia

    At first this made me wince with embarrassment but it wore off after about a minute. MLS is so clearly moving in the right direction, it’s actually good (in a weird way) to know that there is there is so much upside left if they can just take advantage of it. With a World Cup on the horizon (in our time zone, for the first and last time in a while), here’s hoping they can leverage what they have and make another big step.

    Like

  • sdflash

    I have been supporting soccer in this country since 1974 when the NASL came to San Jose. I have all kinds of ideas on why MLS doesn’t get TV ratings, but I would love to see somebody really ask people why they don’t watch. MLS has to have conducted some focus groups and it would be nice to see some actual data.

    I do agree with the point that having more names that the casual fan can identify with would make a lot of difference. Since Messi or Ronaldo are not coming here, this will need to come from young US and Mexican players who we develop. Even if MLS went out and started bidding for players that command ridiculous pay packages in Europe-how many extra tickets would say Gareth Bale or Vincent Kompany actually sell here? If the league had to start raising prices to EPL levels to pay for this spending spree, how many of the people who attend MLS now would still be able to pay for these elevated ticket prices? TV Sports is a star driven game, either talent or scandal created, and this can be seen by the teams and players that are always on national telecasts in the other sports. MLS just does not have the star power to compete and may never have it.

    I am a Dynamo season ticket holder and have noticed that there is a much better understanding in the community about MLS and the Dynamo today than there was in 2006 when they arrived. This increased awareness, however, has not translated into a lot of people taking the next step and either paying to attend a Dynamo game or watching them on TV at home. The attendance at the midweek play in game against Montreal was pathetic. There were a million excuses offered, but if it were an Astros or Rockets playoff game people would have figured out how to make it to the stadium or arena. The fundamental issue is that MLS, and soccer for that matter, is just not that popular in many parts of the country. Spectators may attend once to see what it is all about, but there is little staying power. As for TV, I personally think a part of the issue has to do with the types of people who are attracted to MLS. A lot of the fans are young and many don’t even have cable or satellite TV packages. Many times when they watch games they are in bars or restaurants or with a crowd at a friends house. A lot of them do not really focus on English language media either.

    I personally think that MLS needs to spend most of their time and money capturing these kinds of audiences in the future. Trying to measure the success of MLS on the same playing field as the NFL, MLB or even the WNBA is a losing game.

    I personally think this will take another generation and I am not talking about the sport of the future nonsense. I am not sure I will be alive to see it, but I believe the league will make it in a fairly big way eventually in a very different way than measured today.

    Like

  • martin

    This is an MLS problem, not a soccer problem. I’d bet that the average liga mx game gets more viewer than the average nhl game.

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    • Yevgeniy

      You are right on both counts. Now what? Does it mean that this is not a problem worth discussing?

      Like

      • martin

        You bring a dozen Mexican national team (past and present) players to MLS.

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      • Hal

        been done before

        its about authenticity. MLS lacks it. People don’t like the single entity model.

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      • Yevgeniy

        At the end of the day, it’s about the level of play I think. That’s one clear area for improvement. I think eveyrthing else is an excuse

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      • Joe+G

        Do fans really care about “single entity” as a reason not to watch a game on TV? People watch a sport because they are fans of the sport or they are emotionally connected to a team. Americans will watch sports they don’t really understand if there is some national team angle (Olympic water polo anyone?)

        Either the league doesn’t have the quality/entertainment value to attract soccer fans or there isn’t enough local/league interest to get more casual fans to watch. You can see things like single entity or the draft or the lack of free agency as holding back the quality, but I don’t think most people say that the business model or even the competitive model is the *primary* reason they don’t watch.

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      • Hal

        i don’t think its one thing. It’s just just single entity even though it turns off a lot of people. It’s everything MLS does that is different that turns people off.

        American soccer fans are tuning out the league. We know that much

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      • Scott e Dio93

        mexicans will never support MLS.

        Luis Hernandez piss-off Centrel Americans that supported Galaxy, there was a drop in the Rose Bowl, and Galaxy had less fans.

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  • Jay

    Ok guys this news today is a cold splash of reality. Look MLS is in a tough spot one that I don’t think they can fix any time soon. Americans unlike the rest of the world have no loyalty to (Professional) teams that A stink or B aren’t talented which is mostly one in the same. The NFL has the best players for its sport in the world, so does the NHL, NBA, BASEBALL, GOLF, and even the WNBA. What you guys want is for Americans to ignore their eyes and watch anyway and most will not do that its even hard for me. And no college sports don’t count because they aren’t seen as the highest level of their sports and a lot of people don’t watch them because of that anyway. The problem is that when Don Garber spoke about to much soccer on TV, in my opinion he knew the more soccer on TV the harder it would be on MLS. Not because casual people cant watch MLS its because they won’t want to. Most casual Americans taste of soccer comes from two events, the Champions League final and the World Cup and so when they watch MLS they are expecting to see that skill and when they don’t they tune out. Now with more high level soccer on TV now its just going to make MLS seem less and less appealing. And another thing stop boasting about attendance, its worth nothing in the grand scheme of things. If you asked any owner of any sport would you rather have 40k at the game and 200k watching on tv or 20k and 2mil watching he is taking the eye balls on the tv. That’s where your money is, more money better players, better players more people watch, more people watch, more money and the cycle continues. So Seattle getting 35k means nothing really since nobody is watching it on tv. Nascar is another sport going threw a rough time, they still get a lot of people in the stands but TV numbers are down and they are losing money. In the end you have to have a good balance of both but if you had to choose you take the people watching over people in the stands. It takes time, but with so many options in this country MLS may not get to where people want it to be anytime soon. So instead of freaking out about this news just accept this is where MLS in the pecking order and enjoy it for what it is. That’s what all other niche sports in the country have to do.

    Like

  • Mike R

    WNBA is the top and best women basketball league in the world.
    The NBA is the best basketball league in the world
    The NFL is the best Football league in the world
    NHL is the best hockey league in the world…..

    MLS is minor league soccer compared to Premiership,
    La liga, and serie A.

    Mexican league soccer would be the equivelant of AAA baseball and
    MLS would be AA. Therin lies the problem

    Like

    • Hal

      no, that’s not the problem

      Soccer is way more popular than woman’s basketball. You should be able to get a TV audience. MLS is just not connecting with the majority of American soccer fans.

      Like

  • Karl J

    Time to pull the plug on this farce. If after 18 years you cannot attract more viewers than college softball then it wasn’t meant to be.
    Thanks to FIFA for forcing us to create this league but we’re going to stick with football and basketball from now on.

    Like

    • Hal

      oh please…

      soccer is getting more and more popular in the U.S. It’s the way that MLS is structured that turns people off.

      Like

      • Mike R

        Disagree.

        Still don’t know anyone outside my family that watches MLS and still never any soccer talk around the water cooler

        Like

  • Adam M.

    To be clear, the ONLY thing the WNBA/MLS comparison proves is that more people watch tv during prime time hours when WNBA games are on than off-peak hours when MLS games are on. In fact, MLS is only a few thousand viewers shy of WNBA on ESPN DESPITE the non-peak hours. The report strongly suggests that MLS games during prime time would generally do much better than WNBA. It also suggests that MLS isn’t maximizing its tv potential with its current schuedule (and that NBCSports needs time to move viewers to its new network). The report does NOT mean that WNBA is more popular or more of a tv draw than MLS. MLS clearly has a ways to go on tv, granted, but not because of this false comparison to WNBA.

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  • Hal

    what have we been telling you MLS fans? You’ve alienated the majority of soccer fans in this country with your constant “euro snob” BS anytime someone suggests changing something in MLS.

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    • Yevgeniy

      I suppose there is some of that, but when suggested changes are showing clear lack of understanding the constraints, there is not much of a choice. Examples: relegation, single table, playing in the winter

      Like

      • Hal

        relegation could be done if planned properly. A 10 year plan to implement pro/rel would be ambitious and exciting.

        single table – nothing preventing the league from adopting a single table.

        fall to spring schedule would have a winter break.

        Like

  • Nephi

    Maybe this wouldn’t be true if the league & networks would put the entertaining matches on TV instead of assuming that large market means greater viewership. Check out this tweet from John Ourand.

    Of course, if more teams played entertaining football we’d have more entertaining matches.

    brazil2014travelguide.com

    Like

  • Hal

    the problem for MLS is that the majority of Americans are learning about the game of soccer through the Premier League. And then they look at the MLS with its conferences, playoffs, single entity, no free agency, franchises, no pro/rel, discovery claims, drafts(lol), salary caps and it just looks like a gimmick league. It’s trying to be the NFL.

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  • Kojo

    A lot of good comments here. The main point is that the league needs to get a time slot and stick with it. Soccer is an unusual sport in that as players get older they become fans but continue to play the sport meaning that you are either playing Sat or Sun morning. And if your no longer playing you are driving your kid to their youth game. I cannot think of many guys in their 20’s and 30’s who are playing hardball or tackle Football but I know a lot of guys in that age bracket who still enjoy playing Soccer. think the best time slot is Fri night 9:00pm ET. Yes it will be difficult for the fans in the West coast to attend but they are by far the most loyal fans today. Fri @ 9:00 does not conflict with any other major sport. It allows the 14 to 32 year olds to watch and then the 21 year olds and older can head out to the bars and have something to talk about. “Hey did you catch that Portland-Red Bulls game?” It allows for the older fans to turn in for the night to wake up early to take their kids to the Sat morning youth game. ESPN came out with an article on Sept 20th that pronounced soccer as America’s second-most popular sport for those age 12-24. The league needs to capture this demographic and grow with them.
    One thing that has not been mentioned and that is the quality of TV production namely the number of cameras picking up different views of the game. For example their are things that Nagbe does on the field that are not captured very well when watching the game in panorama sometimes you need the tight up close view and right now the production values are not there. The one thing I give the Premiere League credit for is good production value in televising the game which means having a lot of cameras on the field in comparison to the other major European leagues. Just like the best way to learn soccer is to simply play one of many ways to capture fans is to have good TV production.

    Like

  • Lorenzo

    I am not worried. Stadiums are getting packed, academies are producing talent, league is expanding. It isn’t great, but they will figure the TV thing out.

    Like

    • Falstaff

      the old NASL expanded to 24 teams. They had great attendance. During the peak years they were getting better than MLS gets now.

      The old NASL also got better TV ratings than MLS does now. But there were fewer channels back then and they got on to network TV.

      You said stadiums are getting packed. I disagree. I go to a few LAG games a year and they are maybe 3/4 full. I went to a Chivas game and it was really sad…didn’t even look like 5k had showed up. People will say “yeah, that’s just Chivas,” but they are one of the teams in the top tier. There’s no relegation rule to get rid of them.

      in America revenues come from TV. Until MLS can get a TV audience they haven’t really made it. Getting beat by the WNBA is shocking.

      Like

  • Joamiq

    Panic! Everybody panic! Ignore the fact that average attendance is one of the highest in the world among soccer leagues! This will never translate to TV viewership!

    Also, why is there a “but” in the first sentence of the post, and a “[t]hough” in the second? Those ideas are all complementary, not contrasting…

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    • Hal

      The US is a massive country. All sporting events get a sizable crowd. The old NASL used to have great attendance too.

      Btw..take away Seattle and Portland and MLS attendance has really fallen.

      Like

  • Cosmosfan

    Is it really a surprise? MLS ratings have always sucked, soccer fans don’t care about forced parity leagues with 3 million salary caps. HEll even Comsos Classics on SNY in NY got higher ratings than a live Red Bull gae on MSG inthe same time slot.

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    • Hal

      forced parity, no free agency, the whole single entity gimmick, drafts..what a mess. This is what happens when ex-NFL goobers try to run a soccer league. I have to suppress a gag reflex to follow MLS. And I think most American soccer fans feel the same.

      We have the proof now. What us “euro snobs” have been saying all along. American soccer fans have rejected MLS. WNBA gets better TV ratings. That’s all you have to say to the MLS homer that WONT LISTEN.

      Like

  • Cosmosfan

    Lost in all the points mentioned is the obvious one, MLS just isn’t popular as a soccer league in the USA. Ratings in this country for EPL,USMNT and UEFA CL are huge…the spanish language ratings for Mexico and Liga MX are great.

    No one wants to watch MLS because the league sucks. Its forced parity and watching teams play boring games against each other, with no real stars, and no real great teams…18 average teams fighting in an average league run by a commish that allows jokes like Red Bull and Manchester City to run clubs to promote other things. Lame-o

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  • Falstaff

    when the whole narrative of the MLS regular season is all about who is going to make the playoffs and what seed they will get, how can you expect fans to tune in to watch the games? They’ll just tune in when “the games matter”. Except, they aren’t tuning in “when the games matter” either. Probably because by that time they have no real relationship with the league. It’s games are hard to find etc. It’s not like the NBA where its in your face all the time.

    Also, parity is killing this league. MLS is the only soccer league on the planet that purposely makes its product worse all in the name of fairness. Yeah, the NFL does this too. But the NFL is the only American football league. So it doesn’t matter what they do. They are a monopoly.

    I’ve been saying this forever but MLS is never going to get a TV audience with the current structure of pointless regular season + playoffs. Playoffs make work in the Mexican league but there’s no evidence they will work in the U.S. Most American soccer fans are watching leagues without playoffs. They are being educated and socialized into the game through Europe.

    Japan gets it. They made their reforms and the J-League is skyrocketing in popularity. Does MLS get it? Does Garber? I think Garber plays it too safe. I think part of him gets it but he knows he’s stuck with MLS owners who really don’t have any soccer DNA.

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  • GalaxFan10

    Lets be honest, the presentation just sucks for MLS, just look at the NFL, thats a league that knows how to present a sport on television and the numbers don’t lie. Announcers, Music, just the whole feeling of watching a game is superior to all sports, the NBA does it well on TNT, its not always about the game, but you need to be entertained in the process, beyond the game itself. MLS lacks in this aspect and local coverage of games are just pathetic, even though it has gotten somewhat better in Los Angeles with the Galaxy, its still lacks that feeling.

    Like

    • Hal

      I disagree. It’s all about the game. Sports is not entertainment. It’s sports. If a soccer match is not about the game then what is it about?

      Like

  • dude

    ESPN, NBC Sports numbers are bad, so what?

    The only thing that is really “mickey mouse” about the league TV coverage are the amount of blackouts for those who don’t spring for DirectKick- which, as a one team fan, I absolutely have no reason to buy. It stands to reason that a large amount of people aren’t riveted to the one random “match of the week” on ESPN- who do we root for? Who cares, Golf is on.

    It will take time for the average number of people willing to watch that “soccer thing” on ESPN to grow, but there should be a better way to give regional areas access to THEIR team with minimal black outs. That’s a better way to attract viewers to the fold than hoping for a random surge in the larger broadcast numbers. First get a solid TV fix for the local team, it’s the first step out of apathy.

    Like

  • Leon de Collao

    I haven’t had the time to check other comments but I am close to 100% sure that the wnba has always had better ratings. Not sure why the surprise or “embarrassment” as some put it.

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  • Scott e Dio93

    Real money comes from TV, not gates. Many clubs in Italy and Spain have smaller crowds than MLS teams, but these Latin clubs have more spend money from TV renueve. Garber has to do changes in salary cap and changes in DP rules, avoid failure Dynamo in Champions, and changes in turf (yes, that helps draw more stars and fans). This time I am giving my viewpoint as South American and not as an American, that lives in Florida now and still loyal to Galaxy.

    Like

  • derrick

    not suprised and stop thinking people will watch mls because the want to watch the world cup. they are not the same. Unless you want to sign all the world cup players to mls teams it doesn’t matter. the only thing that matters to mls viewership is improving mls quality. Not some other tournament that’s got completely different players and the greatest players in the world at that.

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  • James

    TV is the last or perhaps I should say one of the last pieces of the puzzle.
    First, we needed individual team ownership to stabilize the league – Done
    Then, we needed soccer specific stadiums so we could create an atmosphere and control scheduling – Done
    Then, we needed better pay to keep and attract better quality players – better on both parts but still a work in progress
    Finally we need better TV numbers – also still a work in progress.
    I didn’t get into MLS until 1998 when I became a season ticket holder for the Kansas City Wizards. Ugh, some of those early games were painful to watch and the attendance was pitiful. But now, just a few years later the games are much more fun to watch as the quality of play is better and with the re-branding of my local team – Sporting Kansas City – the future looks very bright indeed.
    Isn’t going to happen overnight folks but things are definitely going in the right direction.

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