ESPN’s 2017 MLS Cup Viewership Up 20 Percent


ESPN’s 2017 MLS Cup Viewership Up 20 Percent

ESPN Scores Its Most-Viewed MLS Playoffs Since 2014 

ESPN’s 2017 MLS Cup telecast – a 2-0 Toronto FC victory over the Seattle Sounders – averaged 803,000 viewers, up 20 percent compared to the 668,000 viewers for the 2015 MLS Cup, the last Major League Soccer championship game on ESPN.

ESPN posted its most-viewed MLS playoffs since 2014, while the league’s seven most-viewed English-language playoff matches in 2017 aired on ESPN networks.

Including MLS Cup, the 2017 MLS playoffs on ESPN averaged 408,000 viewers (eight matches), a 64 percent increase versus 2016 (249,00 viewers/seven matches, with no MLS Cup on ESPN) and 27 percent ahead of the 2015 MLS playoffs (321,000 viewers, seven matches). Year-over-year gains are even greater for the younger demographics with the audience up 95 percent among adults 18-34 for the entire playoffs and adults 18-34 up 44 percent for Saturday’s MLS Cup.

The last five MLS Cup matches on ESPN:

Year Matchup Viewers
2012 LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo 797.000
2013 Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake 505,000
2014 LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution 964,000
2015 Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers 668,000
2017 Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders 803,000

Note: The MLS audience is likely to grow by 10 percent once all streaming and out-of-home audiences are included, based on ESPN’s new Nielsen Total Audience measurement.


Seattle Leads All Local Markets for MLS Cup and MLS Playoffs on ESPN

Seattle was the top local market for both MLS Cup (7.0 rating) and the entire MLS playoffs on ESPN (2.3 rating).

ESPN’s Top 10 MLS Playoff markets: Seattle (2.3), Columbus, Ohio (1.6), Atlanta (0.8), Louisville (0.6), Dayton (0.5), Portland, Ore. (0.5), Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News (0.5), Cincinnati (0.4), Nashville (0.4) and Knoxville (0.4).

Top 10 MLS Cup markets: Seattle (7.0), Louisville (3.2), Columbus, Ohio (1.7), Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News (1.1), Raleigh-Durham (1.1), Atlanta (1.0), Indianapolis (1.0), Portland, Ore. (1.0), Austin (0.9), Birmingham (0.9), Memphis (0.9) and Philadelphia (0.9). ***Toronto is not one of the 56 U.S. metered markets.

Seattle’s 7.0 rating ranks as the second-highest local market rating for MLS Cup on ESPN networks since 2006. The top-five: Portland – 2015 (7.3), Seattle-Tacoma – 2017 (7.0), Salt Lake City – 2009 (5.8), Columbus, OH. – 2008 (5.8) and Kansas City – 2013 (5.3).


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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