ESPN soccer programming reaches highest US viewership ever

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 19-05-2012

Americans really do like soccer--err, football. The Barclays Premier League season in 2011-12 was the most-viewed season that ESPN has ever enjoyed in that country, highlighted by three telecasts that rank among the top-five most-watched matches.

Sunday’s 3-2 victory by Manchester City over Queens Park Rangers for the title was on ESPN2 by 600,000 viewers, making it the third most-watched Premier League match on ESPN networks of all time. An additional 189,000 Hispanic viewers watched the match on ESPN Deportes.

In all, an average audience of 321,000 viewers watched each Premiership match on the networks in 2011-12, a 7% increase compared to 301,000 viewers in 2010-11. The average by television homes: 269,000 household impressions in 2011-12, an increase of 9%, vs. 246,000 impressions in 2010-11.

On ESPN Deportes, an average of 58,000 Hispanic viewers watched Premier League matches in the 2011-12 season, reflecting a 4% increase compared to 56,000 Hispanic viewers in 2010-11. The season average by Hispanic television homes was 46,500 Hispanic household impressions in 2011-12, a 6% gain year-over-year (44,000 impressions in 2010-11).

ESPN’s live presentation of the 'Manchester derby' (Manchester City’s 1-0 win over rival Manchester United on 30) was the most viewed match of the season with 1.033 million viewers, also a Premier League U.S. cable television record.

As impressive as the broadcast gains are, digital ditsribution has really taken off, Sunday’s Manchester City vs. Queens Park Rangers match logged nearly 108,000 unique viewers and 4.76 million minutes across ESPN3 and WatchESPN on computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox. In the 2011-2012 season, these platforms generated a monthly average of nearly 174,000 unique viewers and 8.9 million live minutes for Premier League matches on computers – up 36% and 73% respectively compared to the previous season. Additionally, EPL matches this season logged 9.2 million monthly average minutes across computers, smartphones and tablets, up 78% compared to ESPN3 on computers last year.

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