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USL Championship surpass MLS in National TV viewership

It is not often when second division tumbles first division in ratings

In a historic moment for American soccer, the United Soccer League (USL) Championship game between Louisville City and Indy Eleven outperformed Major League Soccer (MLS) in national television viewership. This marked the first time a USL game was broadcast on over-the-air network television in the United States.

The match, which saw Louisville City triumph over Indy Eleven 5-3, was aired on CBS as part of its new broadcast deal with the league. The game attracted an impressive total viewership of 362,000 - a significant achievement for a USL Championship match and an indicator of USL Championship's growing popularity within the country.

In contrast, MLS's 'game of the week' failed to match these numbers. Despite being one of Major League Soccer's marquee matchups - Los Angeles FC vs LA Galaxy - it only managed to draw an audience of 211,000 on FOX.

Certain factors influenced lower MLS viewership

Several factors could have contributed to this relatively lower number for MLS. The kickoff time at 7:45 p.m. ET may have clashed with other events that American audiences were watching such as other MLS games or even NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four games. Additionally, there is speculation that FOX may not have adequately advertised this high-profile derby clash.

It should be noted that these figures do not include viewers who watched via MLS Season Pass from Apple – indicating that devout fans might have chosen this subscription service instead.

Despite these considerations, there is no denying that these audience figures are a major victory for USL Championship. As one of the top clubs in America's second division soccer league, Louisville City has demonstrated its ability to attract large audiences who are eager to watch their matches.

This success also provides CBS with valuable insights into what their broadcast deal with the league could potentially yield. While there are no immediate plans to air games on the national CBS TV network, future matches will be available on the CBS Sports Network.

Plans for national TV need to be re-evaluated by MLS

For MLS, these figures raise concerns about their national TV audience. Apple does not release subscription information, making it difficult to assess how successful MLS Season Pass is among American audiences. Although Apple has expressed satisfaction with its current subscription numbers, the fact that fans did not tune in for one of Major League Soccer’s best rivalries raises questions about its broader appeal.

This historic event marks a significant milestone for USL Championship as it continues to challenge Major League Soccer's dominance in American soccer. The impressive viewership figures from this game serve as a testament to USL Championship's growing popularity and potential.

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