If you’re an American who likes to watch Tottenham Hotspur league matches on broadcast television, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Tottenham’s success led to four more games broadcast on network TV and cable, but the bad news is that viewer numbers were slightly down compared to last season.
The excellent twitter account @Spurs_US compiled the viewer data for this season’s league matches compared to last season.
There are a couple of interesting tidbits to glean from this data. First, there were four more matches televised on NBC or its non-Premier League Extra Time channels compared to last season. Unfortunately, those extra four games were broadcast on CNBC, which seems to be where broadcast soccer goes to die. The four CNBC matches - at Everton, at Stoke, home to Leicester, and home to Burnley, accounted for on average just 190,000 viewers, and those numbers are hugely bolstered by the Everton match, which drew in 376,000 viewers. The Burnley match drew in just 93,000 viewers, by far the lowest viewership of any match this season, and much lower than any match televised last season. (The final match of the year at Hull also had low numbers but that was hurt by MSNBC coopting the match to cover President Trump’s overseas trip)
Perhaps in part because of this, overall viewer numbers were down ~4% compared to last season. The moral of the story: don’t put matches on CNBC.
The good news is that this season Spurs drew in bigger American audiences for their biggest league matches, all of which were broadcast on NBC. While viewer numbers are always going to skew towards the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool, three of Spurs’ matches were in the top ten most viewed matches of the season, and their 2-2 draw against Manchester City in January was the second most watch Premier League match this season. (Strangely, all three of Spurs’ most-watched matches were away games — at City, at Chelsea, and at Liverpool.)
The ten most/least-watched Premier League matches on US TV this season. pic.twitter.com/Q9pMkMl6q2— Tottenham Hotspur US (@Spurs_US) May 28, 2017
Spurs had five games on NBC this season, compared to two last season, and those matches pulled in an average of 905,400 viewers, which is pretty awesome. The 21 games broadcast on NBC Sports Network this season drew in an average of 361,200 viewers, and which includes a number of weekday afternoon matches.
BONUS troll-tastic viewing statistic: Note which team is only listed once in the top ten most-wached matches. Yep, that’s Arsenal. Do they get a trophy for that?
So, to summarize, Spurs’ viewership was slightly down overall, but that wasn’t helped by putting some of their least desirable matches on a network that apparently a lot of people don’t have in their cable packages. It’s important to note that these are a) league matches only (so it doesn’t include matches on FOX), and b) doesn’t include viewership data for games on Extra Time, which were probably scary low but would provide a more complete picture. It’d also be interesting to see some data on how many people streamed the games on nbcsports.com/live compared to television.
Nevertheless, I find this data to be an interesting snapshot on American soccer fans’ viewing habits. Thanks to @Spurs_US for the data (which is apparently a pain to compile).