Major League Soccer Audience on ABC and ESPN Networks Up 50 Percent in 2021 Compared to 2020 Regular Season

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Major League Soccer Audience on ABC and ESPN Networks Up 50 Percent in 2021 Compared to 2020 Regular Season

  • 2021 season to date audience up 39 percent compared to 2019 season average
  • MLS on ABC and ESPN networks on-track to deliver most-watched season since 2000
  • Coverage of MLS’s 26th season continues with doubleheader on Friday
  • ESPN+ continues expansive MLS Live streaming of all Out-of-Market matches

The 2021 Major League Soccer season on ABC and ESPN networks had delivered an average audience of 384,000 viewers (P2+) through 18 matches, a 50 percent increase compared to the 2020 regular-season average (257,000).

Compared to the 2019 regular-season average (277,000 viewers), the audience of 384,000 average viewers for MLS on ABC and ESPN networks represents a 39 percent increase in viewership through 18 matches in 2021.

Highlights:

  • With 358,000 average viewers season to date, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 combined are currently on track to deliver Major League Soccer’s most-watched season since 2000 (378,000 viewers across the same three English-language networks)
  • The five ABC matches this season – the most MLS matches on the broadcast network since 1998 – delivered an average audience of 507,000 viewers. Last year, three ABC matches averaged 318,000 viewers.

Top-five MLS matches on ABC and ESPN networks in 2021:

Date Match Network Viewers (P2+)
Sun, May 9 Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders ABC 620,000
  Inter Miami CF vs. Atlanta United ABC 557,000
Sun, Jun 20 Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union ESPN 546,000
Sat, Apr 24 LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders ESPN 499,000
Sun, Apr 18 Inter Miami CF vs. LA Galaxy ABC 482,000

2021 MLS on ESPN Continues Friday with a MLS Heineken Rivalry Week doubleheader

ESPN coverage of the 26th season of Major League Soccer continues with three MLS Heineken Rivalry Week matches this weekend, including a doubleheader on Friday: Columbus Crew vs. FC Cincinnati at 6:30 p.m. ET, and Orlando City SC vs. Inter Miami CF at 8:30 p.m. The Cascadia Cup – Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers on Sunday at 10:30 p.m. – will round out the weekend of rivalry matches. All three games will be on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and available on the ESPN App.

El Tráfico – the matchup between crosstown rivals LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC – on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. is one of the remaining 12 matches across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes as MLS teams compete for spots in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.

MLS Cup: ABC will be home to MLS Cup 2021 on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. – the 23rd time in 26 years that Major League Soccer’s champion has been crowned on a Walt Disney Company media network.

2021 MLS on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes – Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Match Networks
Fri, Aug 27 6:30 p.m. Columbus Crew vs. FC Cincinnati ESPN, ESPN Deportes
  8:30 p.m. Orlando City SC vs. Inter Miami CF ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Aug 29 10:30 p.m. Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Sep 19 4 p.m. Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Sep 26 9:30 p.m. Austin FC vs. LA Galaxy ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Oct 3 8 p.m. LA Galaxy vs. Los Angeles FC ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Oct 10 5 p.m. Minnesota United vs. Colorado Rapids ESPN, ESPN3 (Spanish)
Sun, Oct 17 1 p.m. New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Oct 24 4 p.m. Austin FC vs. Houston Dynamo ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Tue, Oct 26 10:30 p.m. Los Angeles FC vs. Seattle Sounders ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Oct. 31 1 p.m. Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Nov 7 3:30 p.m. TBD ESPN, ESPN Deportes

* Schedule Subject to Change

* All matches will stream live on the ESPN App

 

Exclusively on ESPN+ – 13 Out-of-Market MLS Games in two weeks

ESPN+ will continue its livestreaming of over 350 MLS Live Out-of-Market games for weeks 22 and 23 of the season. The industry-leading sports streaming service will carry 13 matches over the next two weekends beginning Friday at 7:30 p.m. with CF Montréal vs. Toronto FC in the Canadian Classique rivalry match.

 

Upcoming MLS Live on ESPN+ games:

Date Time (ET) Event
Fri, Aug 27 7:30 p.m. CF Montréal vs. Toronto FC
Sat, Aug 28 6 p.m. Red Bulls New York vs. Chicago FC
  7:30 p.m. New York City FC vs. New England Revolution
  8 p.m. DC United vs. Philadelphia Union
  9 p.m. Sporting Kansas City SC vs. Colorado Rapids
  9 p.m. Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United FC
Sun, Aug 29 10 p.m. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake
Fri, Sep 3 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution
  7:30 p.m. Nashville SC vs. New York City FC
  8 p.m. Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers
Sat, Sep 4 7 p.m. Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Austin FC
  7:30 p.m. Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew
  8 p.m. FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami CF

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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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