With the conclusion of the Olympic Football tournament on NBC Sports, the summer friendlies ending on Saturday with Real Madrid v. Celtic FC on ESPN 2, and the Community Shield on Fox Soccer on Sunday, the soccer broadcast community shifts from summer mode into fall. This will see the run up to MLS Cup and the kickoff of CONCACAF Champions League wrapped around a package of European Football. Things get started this weekend as the English Premier League season kicks off, and the MLS playoff race heats up.
It's been a good year for MLS on ESPN. Through the MLS All-Star Game, MLS soccer had averaged 345,000 viewers; an increase of 12% of viewers and 9% in television homes through the same period in 2011. This makes it the most watched MLS season on cable television so far.
The top five markets for MLS on ESPN are Portland (0.5), New York (0.5), Norfolk, Va. (0.5), San Diego (0.4), and Greensboro, N.C. (0.4). As such the broadcast schedule has been heavy on Portland Timbers, New York Red Bulls, and LA Galaxy matches.
The Olympic tournament gave MLS on NBC Sports Network a huge boost, the FC Dallas - Portland match on August 5th was the most watched match on NBC Sports thus far (405,000 viewers), and the second most watched match was the Los Angeles v. Dallas match on July 28th (392,000). The Dallas-Portland tilt was up 241% from the 2011 regular season average on Fox Soccer (232,000).
NBC's next broadcast will be August 19th, DC United v. Philadelphia Union at 2pm PST. ESPN won't show an MLS match this weekend, as they kick off their EPL coverage.
ESPN will show Arsenal v. Sunderland from the Stadium of Light Saturday morning, and then Fox Soccer has six matches across two networks to offer. Fox Soccer's kickoff weekend will feature current EPL Champions Manchester City taking on Southampton on Sunday morning. The EPL fest concludes on Monday as ESPN shows Everton v. Manchester United.
Fox Soccer will also be the place to find CONCACAF Champions League matches, including the LA Galaxy's match against Isidro Meapan on August 23rd. That match will kick off 7:00 at the Home Depot Center.