The MLS Cup barely avoided a record-low rating last weekend.
Saturday’s Galaxy/Dynamo MLS Cup drew a 0.5 U.S. rating and 797,000 viewers on ESPN — down 17% in ratings and 23% in viewership from the same matchup last year (0.6, 1.0M), but up 25% and 7%, respectively, from Rapids/F.C. Dallas in 2010 (0.4, 748K).
The match ranks as the second-lowest rated MLS Cup ever on an English-language network, ahead of only 2010. It has now been eleven years since an MLS Cup telecast has attracted even 1% of U.S. television homes.
Keep in mind the MLS Cup also aired on Spanish-language channel Telefutura, earning 485,000 viewers. The combined audience for the match, according to Sports Business Daily, declined 5% from last year.
Prior to the MLS Cup, ESPN and ESPN2 averaged a 0.2 U.S. rating and 392,000 viewers for five preliminary round playoff matches.
While the MLS Cup was a disappointment, ESPN and ESPN2 attracted record numbers for the MLS regular season. The networks averaged 311,000 viewers for 20 regular season matches, up 7% from last year (292K), up 23% from 2010 (253K), and the most-viewed MLS season ever on ESPN or ESPN2.
Regular season coverage also increased on NBC Sports Network, which averaged 125,000 viewers in its first year covering the league — up 79% from coverage on Fox Soccer Channel last year (70K).