Soccer on TV: Hudson River Derby Draws Tepid Ratings

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

ht2c0jflx08nrsp6yi6qA crowd of 33,697 attended last Sunday’s Hudson River Derby between NYCFC and New York Red Bulls, up substantially from the 2017 season average at Yankee Stadium.  It was a thrilling match, punctuated by David Villa‘s first Major League Soccer hat-trick. All the drama, however, did not translate into a strong television audience.

A mere 240,000 viewers tuned into Fox Sports 1’s telecast of the Hudson River Derby, fourth among live soccer matches on cable that day.  The match trailed Arsenal vs. Chelsea (324,000, FS1), Sporting Kansas City vs. Atlanta United (323,000, FS1), and Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (265,000, ESPN) in total viewers.

While the rousing five-goal match produced the kind of magic fans expect from what has grown into a heated rivalry, it a concern that New York, a key market for MLS, fails to attract a strong TV audience. Even the June 24 meeting between NYCFC and the Red Bulls, which drew a respectable 467,000 total viewers, was a disappointment.  The match was shown on the Fox broadcast network where viewership is expected to be much stronger, and had the benefit of being proceeded by Mexico’s final Confederations Cup group stage match against Russia (780,000 viewers on Fox). That more than 40 percent of Fox’s viewers tuned out between matches cannot be ignored.

The two clubs are scheduled to square off again on Friday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.  The games will be be part of the league’s second installment of Rivalry Week.

Soccer Telecasts on Cable; Sunday, Aug. 6:

HRDViewership

 

Viewership numbers via ShowBuzzDaily