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OSC Weekly Ratings Wrapup

by David Carlson
August 28, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS)

ESPN vs. ESPN2 expectations

This week gave Major League Soccer some very different ratings results. On ESPN MLS had three games that had a demo rating of .09, .12, and .14, along with overall audiences in the 250-300k range. The game on ESPN2, however, in a similar time slot on a Saturday night drew much less, .04 demo ratings and 110k range audiences.

This is an interesting phenomenon considering ESPN2 is almost in as many households as ESPN - around 98-99%. It is also usually right next to ESPN on most cable channel listings; it isn't buried like some other networks such as CBSSN or FS2 might be.

One issue was ESPN and ESPN2 ran two games effectively against one another on Thursday night. That is going to likely decimate the rating on one of the games, and it was as you'd expect the ESPN2 game. The Saturday night ESPN2 game did a bit better when it wasn't up against other MLS programming on the same family of networks.

Another comparison would be to look at the market matchups:


The ESPN games featured all newer, very engaged MLS markets. The Saturday night ESPN2 game showed both teams from the New York metro area, so it had extremely regional interest, in a market with a lot of other content likely going at the same time (baseball games, etc), in addition to being on ESPN2 instead of ESPN.

But, maybe it isn't fair to compare 7p Saturday on ESPN2 to 8p Friday on ESPN? We can attempt to compare to recent weeks with other programming in the same time slots on the channels, and how MLS compared to those.

Friday ESPN PrimeTime:
7/26 Intl. Soccer.12/276k
Saturday ESPN2 PrimeTime:
8/10-7/27UnknownNot in Top 150 @ 8pm

As we can see, on ESPN Friday night, the rating was lower than the two Little League World Series telecasts, but, it was very competitive with "The Basketball Tournament" and a Real Madrid soccer match. Maybe the bigger headline against the Little League World Series is how much older the baseball audience is. The LLWS smoked the MLS game in overall viewers, but that is mostly people 50+. In the 18-49 demo, it wasn't even double the audience of MLS.

On Saturday on ESPN2 we saw the same thing, where the LLWS did 4-6 times better in overall viewers, but barely doubles up on 18-49 year-olds. Going further back a few weeks, whatever ESPN2 was showing didn't even rate, so while the MLS numbers look poor on ESPN2 Saturday night, other than an American institution like the Little League World Series, it is performing better than other things ESPN2 aired in the summer on Saturday nights. And how much better could some of these properties do, such as MLS and WNBA, if the networks would give them a consistent weekly spot for a game of the week instead of constantly moving them around?

Last Week's OSC Leagues Ratings Summary:

8/2010:30pNBATVWNBANot in Top 150
8/237:30pNBATVWNBANot in Top 150
8/2512pESPNewsCFLNot in Top 150
8/252pCBSBIG3 Playoffs.16/550k
8/253pESPNewsNWSLNot in Top 150
8/253pNBATVWNBANot in Top 150
8/254:30pNBCSNPLLNot in Top 150
8/255pNBATVWNBANot in Top 150
8/257pNBATVWNBANot in Top 150

*- First 30 minutes of game on ESPN2, then switched to ESPN.

After a few weeks of popping into the Top 150, the Premiere Lacrosse League didn't rate again for its game from Albany this past weekend. FS1 had an MLS triple-header Sunday night, and the ratings went up for each game, including a combined .25 demo and 462k viewers between FS1 and Fox Deportes for the 10pm game.

Coming up this week with OSC league programming on TV:

August 19-25 OSC Leagues on TV

9/13pCBSBIG3 Championship

Follow OSC TV and ratings discussion at

NOTE: Don't know what the "demo" is? Unsure of why the different ratings numbers don't match up? Read our explanation of TV ratings in our first article here.

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Major League Soccer Stories from August 28, 2019

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