What if soccer hasn’t made it in the United States, but fútbol has?
Univision released viewership numbers for this past weekend’s Liga MX Semifinal matches, and they’re good news for fans of the league. According to the Univision press release, there were 1.8 million viewers on average for the Club América vs. UNAM Pumas match on Thursday night, which surpassed not only popular programs such as “Great American Baking Show” (ABC), “S.W.A.T.” (CBS), “Will & Grace” (NBC), and “Jersey Shore: Family Vacay” (MTV) but also an NBA doubleheader on TNT with the New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz games.
The rest of the games also did well, with the Cruz Azul vs. Monterrey match on Saturday drawing an average of 1.5 million viewers and peaking at 1.8 million and the Vuelta leg of the Club América vs. Pumas series on Sunday also averaging 1.8 million viewers and peaking at 2 million. Wednesday’s Monterrey vs. Cruz Azul match was on FOX Deportes, and they drew in an average of 825,000 viewers with a peak of 1.04 million viewers. According to a FOX Deportes spokesperson, this was the “network’s most viewed program since the 2017 UEFA Champions League final.”
By contrast, the Major League Soccer MLS Cup Final between Atlanta United FC and the Portland Timbers drew 1.56 million viewers on average and peaked at 2.06 million. According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post, that match was the most watched league final since 1997. Goff also pointed out that the NBC broadcast of the Chelsea vs. Manchester City game had “its biggest audience of the season”, drawing in 1.1 million viewers.
Strict face-to-face comparisons between soccer league broadcasts don’t prove much, but the overall numbers should be an encouraging sign that soccer / fútbol has a good sized audience in the United States.