TV Rating for MLS on NBC Increases in Week 2

Major League Soccer optimists who last week stated that TV ratings could only go up were, for at least one week, proven to be correct.

NBC Sports reported via the NBCSportsPR Twitter page that ratings for the NBC Sports "MLS on NBC" coverage grew from the Week 1 numbers which somewhat disappointed both fans and analysts. According to the page, 145,000 viewers tuned in to watch this past Sunday's Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids. Approximately 82,000 viewers watched the debut of MLS on NBC Sports the previous weekend, when the New York Red Bulls were away to FC Dallas.

The good news continues. 124,000 viewers watched all of the station's 2.5 hours of Major League Soccer programming that aired this past weekend. This includes both pregame and postgame coverage of the match. That is, as explained by the NBCSportsPR Twitter page, a 51 percent increase from the previous week. The 145,000 viewers is a substantial increase from what FOX Soccer averaged for MLS games last season.

There are a few things we can take from the most recent numbers. For starters, it does appear that starting off the MLS on NBC Sports programming on the same day as NCAA college basketball Selection Sunday may have been a mistake. If nothing else, perhaps the station should have aired the RBNY-FC Dallas game after the full brackets were announced by CBS and ESPN. Also, we now know that MLS on NBC doesn't need "big name stars" such as Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea in order to pull in the (reportedly) desired 100,000 weekly viewers. MLS fans would have no problem watching Philly host a Colorado side that is, after this past weekend, 2-0. Casual sports fans who know little-to-nothing about the league, however, may not be able to name more than two players participating in that game.

Another plus is that, for the second time in consecutive weekends, MLS on NBC Sports aired at the same time and on the same day; Sunday at 4:00 pm ET. One big thing that bothered me about FSC's Soccer Night in America is that the games aired on different days and different times. Unless you checked the ever-changing schedule each week during the 2011 campaign, you wouldn't know when games were airing on FOX Soccer. Things are different now, though, and this weekend, MLS will be airing on NBC Sports; on Friday night at 10:00 pm. Well, can't win them all. Besides, ESPN will be airing Red Bulls vs. Colorado at 4:00 pm ET this coming Sunday. That's better than nothing, I suppose.

Two weeks in, and all diehard MLS fans I've spoken with who watched league matches on FOX Soccer in previous years seem rather impressed with how NBC Sports has presented games this March. We should, in the next couple of weeks, find out if NBC Sports not having a true "Soccer Night in America" will cost the network viewers going forward. So far, so good for both the league and the channel.

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Zac Wassink is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012