Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Lot on the Line, Crew SC TV Game

MLS Viewership by week on ESPN

It's no secret that MLS TV ratings drag those of of other professional leagues in the US. For whatever reason (a post for another day) people just don't seem to want to tune in. This doesn't mean that soccer hasn't made it in the US because it has. It absolutely has, for decades. Fans will watch US National team games ("Team USA") to record smashing degrees and the Barclays Premier League, whose TV viewership on a smaller network beats that of MLS on ESPN, but when it comes to this country's domestic league, it's pretty much crickets.

Columbus Crew SC will be on ESPN 2 this afternoon for the first and only scheduled time of the year and it is against Chicago. Not the sexiest of matchups but not the worst either (I think). The lowest viewed game so far on ESPN 2 is the delayed game (heat) in Portland a couple weeks ago with 133k average viewership. Next lowest is a game in Chicago back in March, 152k.

In my opinion there are two things that Columbus needs in order to make an impression. Why this week? For many, this will be the only game they see on TV in Columbus - both local (thanks TWC) and casual MLS fans.

Columbus hasn't had a real sellout yet this year. LA was reported as one but it was rain delayed. For the most part Mapfre Stadium has been about half to three quarters full. MLS can announce that there is three million at this game but unless there are people filling up that camera facing side, it will hurt the team's chances of getting more games next year.

Prediction: 15,000 announced, half full as far as butts in seats.

Attendance, in a way, goes hand in hand with TV ratings. Have a full, loud place and people will tune in. Crew (Mapfre) Stadium can get loud, as USMNT games have proven, but for Crew games it can get a little embarrassing when the only noise emanating from the stands is that of a couple guys (that I know, bless 'em) and La Turbina's drums.

Prediction: 130,000 average viewers.

My hope is that Gregg Berhalter has this team ready to go and plays the brand of soccer that they have proven to be able to do before. Soccer fans will take note and will return to watch the Crew if this is the case.

We'll have to see. Crew SC seem to be a little snake bit this year in regards to weather and it appears a thunderstorm is on the way.

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