ESPN Grows Audience for MLS Season-Opener


ESPN Grows Audience for MLS Season-Opener

Double-digit Increases across TV and Streaming Platforms

ESPN’s season-opening Major League Soccer telecast on Sunday – Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC in the first match at Orlando’s new downtown stadium – averaged 411,000 viewers, up 14 percent compared to the Portland-Columbus opener in 2016 (362,000 viewers).

Additionally, the 2017 MLS season-opening match delivered significant increases across key male demos:

  • The telecast averaged 50,000 Hispanic viewers (P2+) on ESPN, up 95 percent
  • Averaged 84,000 viewers among M18-34, up 50 percent;
  • Delivered average audience of 160,000 among M18-49, a 23 percent increase vs. 2016
  • Averaged 156,000 viewers among M25-54, up 16 percent.

Streaming on WatchESPN and the ESPN App, the match had an average minute audience of 18,000 with a combined 2.8 million total minutes, increases of 25 percent and 26 percent, respectively, compared to the 2016 opener.

The total live audience (TV and streaming) average of 430,000 viewers represents a 14 percent gain from last year. In 2017, live streaming provided a 4.5 percent lift to the audience, up from 4.1 in 2016.

This Weekend: MLS Expansion Teams Minnesota United FC vs. Atlanta United, Sunday on ESPN2

ESPN’s MLS Soccer Sunday schedule continues Sunday, March 12, at 5 p.m. ET with Minnesota United FC vs. Atlanta United on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN. The match at TFC Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will be the Major League Soccer home opener for Minnesota United and the first meeting between the two new MLS expansion teams. Adrian Healey (play-by-play), analyst Taylor Twellman and sideline reporter Julie Stewart-Binks will handle English-language commentaries for the match. Richard Méndez and Giovanni Savarese will provide Spanish-language commentary on ESPN Deportes.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties over the years. I am currently focused on soccer and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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