The LA Galaxy have had two matches on ESPN networks in May that kicked off at 8:00 pm PDT/11:00pm Eastern on a Sunday. The Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders tilt with the debut of Robbie Rogers was a relative ratings success, according to the Sports Business Journal drawing 191k viewers on ESPN2 in an unattractive time slot.
The reason it's not the most attractive time to kick off a match is it pretty much guarantees no casual fans on the East Coast will tune in. It appears the announcement of Rogers signing with the club and the possibility of his debut was enough to cause a bump over what ESPN normally does in that time slot.
The LA Galaxy were in ESPN's best rated match to date, as New York vs. LA drew 250k with Ian Darke's last EPL match on ESPN as a lead in. That figure certainly has NBC Sports excited, as I fully expect NBC Sports to schedule MLS matches with EPL lead ins as often as possible.
The match between the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo on Cinco de Mayo drew 145k fans, the second lowest total for a match on ESPN this season (Dal vs. Hou was the worst). The Galaxy vs. Chivas match last year around the same time drew 146k, so we can assume that's a baseline rating for that time slot in this time of year. Growing the audience by about a third, even if the number isn't that great for a national network, is significant.
191k may not look like much, but it's ESPN's third best ratings get since the MLS season opener. LA had been in two of the three best rated matches this year, as have New York, and as have the Cascadia teams which might make some small market teams unhappy. The frequent rotation of LA, NY, and the Northwest on national tv doesn't look to be going away any time soon.
Update: As an added note, the Liga MX final which saw Club America come back against Cruz Azul in el clasico joven drew 4.5 million viewers on Univision, the most watched Liga MX match ever on any network. So there was plenty of soccer watching going on Sunday, just not MLS.