Manchester Premier League showdown does big rating for ESPN

Only a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable for ESPN to knock out afternoon programming on the Mother Ship to air a soccer game from Europe.

ESPN did it Monday, and the result is yet another sign of how the sport is growing in this country.

Monday’s Manchester derby, a 1-0 home win for Manchester City over Manchester United in a 2011-2012 Premier League showdown, was seen on ESPN by an average of 1.033 million viewers (832,000 television homes), based on a 0.8 rating, making it the most-watched Premiership telecast on U.S. cable television, according to Nielsen.

The Manchester derby telecast out-delivered the previous high, an ESPN2 telecast of Arsenal vs. Chelsea, seen by an average of 610,000 viewers on Monday, Dec. 27, 2010.

To attract that large of an audience on a Monday afternoon is a huge deal for soccer. And for the networks who continue to track the rising numbers.

Here is a list of the top-rated PL games in the U.S.

Date Matchup Viewers – P2+ Network
Mon, April 30, 2012 Manchester City vs. Manchester United 1,033,000 ESPN
Mon., Dec. 27, 2010 Chelsea vs. Arsenal 610,000 ESPN2
Sat., Feb. 11, 2012 Liverpool vs. Manchester United 588,000 ESPN2
Sun., Feb. 6, 2011 Liverpool vs. Chelsea 579,000 FOX Soccer
Mon., Dec. 13, 2010 Arsenal vs. Manchester United 570,000 ESPN2

The news definitely is encouraging to Fox Sports. On May 13, its networks will show nine games simutaneously from the PL’s “Survival Sunday.”


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