North American soccer league releases viewership figures for April to July.
Both last season and this season can be considered as the most accessible ever, both at home and on devices. There are a record 37 games airing on ABC, ESPN, Fox, and Fox Sports and in Spanish on Univision, UniMas, ESPN Deportes, and Fox Deportes. ESPN+, meanwhile, 350 streams will be broadcasted nationally, giving fans a chance to watch their favorite teams even outside their television markets.
However, Viewership of Major League Soccer (MLS) has increased for all of the league’s US broadcast partners during the opening months of the 2021 season, according to Nielsen figures for April to July. Univision and UniMas record highest viewership of all time, with sporting channels such as ESPN and ABC seeing 50% viewership increase on 2020 and 39% compared to 2019. In addition broadcasts on Fox and FS1 are now averaging 231,000 viewers
ABC broadcast its first ever MLS double-header on 18th May, when 620,000 tuned in to watch the Portland Timbers face their rivals, the Seattle Sounders, while 557,000 watched the match between Atlanta United and Inter Miami.
MLS has also seen an increase in viewership on Spanish-language channels UniMas and Univision, whose broadcasts have been watched by an average audience of 302,000. This marks a 21 per cent increase on 2020 and is also the network’s highest viewership of all time.
Meanwhile, MLS broadcasts across Fox and FS1 are up 14 per cent on 2020 to 231,000 average viewers. FS1 has recorded its highest MLS viewership since 2015, with an average of 185,000 viewers.
The viewership increases will be welcome news for MLS, which reportedly saw its ratings for the 2020 regular season decrease compared to the 2019 campaign. However, the 2020 MLS Cup final was watched by 1.071 million viewers on Fox, representing a 30 per cent rise compared to the previous edition.
“The growth we are seeing is excellent. To come out of COVID and maintain growth not only from last year to two years ago is really important,” said Seth Bacon, MLS' Senior Vice President, Media.