Monday, March 15, 2021

Viewership YOY, MLS Fading

Over on Twitter, I posted a quick analysis of soccer viewership using the dates January 1 - March 11, year over year. The mid-March date has significance because it is almost all soccer leagues across the planet stopped playing. 

There are a couple changes to the "normal" schedule, still, this year, but for the most part everything is getting back to normal. Well, sans fans... and sans, astonishingly, MLS

So who is benefitting from MLS sitting out the month of March? Let's take a look. 

Below will show the top 50 cable soccer programs Jan 1 - March 11 last year and this year (same time frame).

It's pretty simple and easy to see what happened. Without things like the CONCACAF Champions League and MLS (US Men also dropping to lows in interest), viewers have shifted over to the English Premier League. It's even grown in its number one spot over Liga MX because of it.

I've been commenting over the years that the EPL is siphoning off MLS fans, and it is seen here as well. The EPL hits a sweet spot with US consumers of sports as it "fits" in to the routine and doesn't have to compete with the "big 4" directly. 

How? It's on in the mornings and daytime hours, meaning general sports fans that watch a lot of things (a good chunk of the MLS demographic) can watch that ("EPL Mornings") and then switch over to whatever they want in the evening (most likely some sort of basketball this time of year).

Again, I think it is a grave mistake that MLS pushed the season back almost 6 weeks. The Premier League is humming and both the NBA and NHL will be hitting their late-season/playoff stride right as MLS kicks off. 


In the chart at the top of this post, it's easy to identify two events that have increased the Premier League's interest over MLS (and other soccer events). First, it's the USMNT missing out on the 2018 world up (the bend in my hastily put together graph) and now, this late winter/spring. 

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