Want proof that Major League Soccer is firmly taking hold in the Philadelphia region?
Look no further than the improvement in Philadelphia Union’s local TV ratings from Year 1 to Year 2.
In 2010, the Union averaged a .5 Nielsen rating for the club’s first three local broadcasts on 6abc. In other words, on average, .5 percent of households receiving the match were tuned in at a given time.
Through three local broadcasts in 2011 – two on 6abc and one on The Comcast Network – the Union are averaging a 1.0 overnight rating, a 100 percent increase. For reference, a 1.0 HH (HH stands for household) is equivalent to approximately 30,000 households, each of which is estimated to contain 2.3 viewers.
“TV ratings are a key measure of success in this business so we’re thrilled with the early returns,” said Union executive vice president Dave Rowan. “Our fans who watched last year are tuning in more frequently, and we’re also seeing a new audience enter the fold. The market has demonstrated considerable demand to watch Union matches and we’re appreciative of the support.”
For the club’s home opener on March 26 – aired on 6abc – the Union received a .9 overnight rating, including a 1.4 HH in the 18-34 male demographic.
Saturday night’s broadcast was particularly successful, despite the 10:30 p.m. start time in LA. The match – aired on The Comcast Network – achieved a 1.2 overnight rating with a 2 share (meaning two percent of households watching TV at that particular time were watching the Union). The match peaked at a 1.8 HH between 11:15-11:30pm, with the 18-34 male demo once again the strongest, achieving a 1.6 HH.
“It is exciting to see that all of our efforts in the first season are paying off with the Union attracting higher ratings for the broadcasts,” said 6abc general manager Bernie Prazenica. “We see soccer as a sport on the rise and the ratings are supporting that belief.”
Union broadcasts feature veteran commentator JP Dellacamera on play-by-play and former MLS MVP Taylor Twellman as color analyst, considered by many to be the best tandem in MLS. Philadelphia soccer legend Bob Rigby rounds out the trio as a sideline reporter, in addition to featuring on “State of the Union” (Fridays, 7:00pm on TCN/11:30pm on CSN) along with host Amy Fadool.
Comcast SportsNet and The Comcast Network joined 6abc in the Union’s family of networks ahead of the 2011 season.
6abc, the club’s official broadcast partner, is airing seven of the team’s 34 total matches in ‘11, while 20 matches are being evenly split between CSN and TCN. The remaining seven matches are nationally televised – three on ESPN2 and four on FOX Soccer Channel. All 34 regular season matches are broadcast in HD.
"We’re thrilled to be partners with the Union and with the early ratings success of their games,” said Brian Monihan, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “We’re also excited to have launched a new weekly show, State of the Union. We’re confident this is a team, and a sport, that will only continue to increase in popularity in the coming years.”
Despite an offensive performance to forget against LA, the Union are off to a 2-1-0 start, good for sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
It’s still very early for the second-year MLS club, but so far, both on and off the field, 2011 is shaping up to be a definitive step in the right direction.