Even though the popularity of international soccer is in the midst of a healthy boom, the American brand of futbol is suffering so badly that you’d think the league was headquartered in Detroit. Why can’t America’s teams compete for the hearts and minds of its own fans?
The 2009 MLS All-Star Game drew a 0.3 U.S. rating and 484,000 viewers on ESPN2 Wednesday night. The game was down 28% in households (324,000 in ’09 versus 453,000 in ’08), compared to last year’s game on ESPN.
The less than spectacular numbers for the MLS All-Star Game come in a week when soccer continues to draw strong audiences. Two Gold Cup telecasts on Univision (Costa Rica/Mexico and USA/Mexico) ranked 2nd and 3rd among the top 5 sports programs of the week. The USA/Mexico match drew 5.4 million viewers, while Costa Rica/Mexico drew 5.3 million. via.
The MLS All-Star game had a unique format where all of the league’s best players played against Everton, one of the more badass teams in Europe. The game went to penalty kicks, with Everton (and American goalie Tim Howard) prevailing. At least that was compelling and somewhat unique. Major League Lacrosse did something similar with their ASG, pitting their older stars against the league’s “young guns.” But America seems to be so brand-loyal with sports that there doesn’t seem to be any leeway for some of these other leagues to grab eyeballs on TV. Who would have thought America had such a negative attitude toward crap?