MLS Enjoying Summer Audience Spike; NBC Sports Net Outpacing Fox Soccer
The audience for MLS games, which started off this season “as little more than a flat line, have sprung to life in the past few months -- perhaps surfing on a wave from the UEFA Champions League, Euro 2012 and a bit of fairy dust from the London Olympics,” according to Jack Bell of the N.Y. TIMES. Six of the seven largest audiences for MLS games on NBC Sports Network “have been in the past six weeks, and all seven are larger than was the top-rated MLS game on Fox Soccer in 2011.” Six games have “drawn an average audience of more than 200,000 viewers," and the July 28 FC Dallas-Galaxy match "drew an audience of nearly 400,000.” About twice as many people are watching MLS on NBCSN “than watched it on Fox Soccer to this point in the 2011 season -- and the numbers have been increasing.” MLS CMO Howard Handler “declined to be critical of the league’s former TV partner in Fox Soccer.” Bell wrote the channel “often treated MLS like a poor relation compared to its commitment to all things Premier League and European.” Handler said, “We don’t think Fox failed. We’re still big fans.” But he added that the audience for MLS games on NBCSN “are 97 percent ahead on average of viewership during 2011 on Fox Soccer” (NYTIMES.com, 8/4).
COMING TO YOUR TOWN: In N.Y., Ian Thomson wrote some of the challenges issued by MLS Commissioner Don Garber in order for Orlando to receive an MLS team are “increasing its average attendance and sponsorship." These are among the demands that USL Pro club Orlando City’s board has been "quietly addressing.” Orlando City President Phil Rawlins, whose club plays in the third tier of U.S. soccer, said, “We are working very, very hard on the stadium solution.” He added, “The political backing we’ve had from both the city and the county has been fantastic. We’re looking forward to finding the right solution, the right location, putting a soccer-specific stadium here and bringing MLS to central Florida.” Thomson noted on-field results also have “aided Orlando’s development,” as the team has seen attendance rise “15 percent this season and its sponsorship revenue jump 50 percent.” Rawlins: “If you look at our facilities and our structure, it’s fair to say we are as well off, if not better off, than most MLS clubs at this point in time” (NYTIMES.com, 8/4).