The 2021 Major League Soccer season on ABC and ESPN networks had delivered an average audience of 384,000 viewers (P2+) through 18 matches, a 50 percent increase compared to the 2020 regular-season average (257,000).
ABC and ESPN Deportes broadcast of Sunday’s Inter Miami CF vs. LA Galaxy, a 3-2 come-from-behind road victory for the Galaxy, delivered a combined average audience of 558,000 viewers (P2+) – the largest audience for MLS on ESPN networks’ season-opening day action since 2011 (604,000 viewers, Seattle vs. LA Galaxy). The 558,000 viewers (P2+) on ABC and ESPN Deportes reflect a nine percent increase over the average audience (512,000 viewers) for last year’s ESPN-ESPN Deportes season-opening doubleheader.
ESPN’s coverage of Major League Soccer’s 26th season will kick off this weekend with a full slate of MLS Live on ESPN+ out-of-market matches, ABC’s broadcast of Inter Miami CF vs. LA Galaxy, and the first-ever MLS preview special on ESPN+. Before calling Sunday’s match on ABC, ESPN’s lead MLS commentator team of Jon Champion and Taylor Twellman will host the 2021 MLS Preview Show on Friday, April 16, at 7 p.m. ET, exclusively on ESPN+.
ESPN Networks’ expansive coverage of the 26th season of Major League Soccer kicks off on ABC and ESPN Deportes with Inter Miami CF vs. LA Galaxy on Sunday, April 18, at 3 p.m. ET. In 2021, ESPN Networks will feature MLS regular season coverage of more than 380 matches across ABC, ESPN and ESPN+, including a combined 32 matches across ABC (five), ESPN (26) and ESPN2 (1), while ESPN Deportes will carry Spanish-language telecasts of all 32 matches. During the season, ESPN will also televise two additional matches to showcase meaningful games to a broader national audience.
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ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will present live English and Spanish-language coverage of eight Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs matches beginning Friday, Nov. 20, with the Play-In Round match between Major League Soccer’s 2020 expansion teams – Nashville SC vs. Inter Miami CF – at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
ESPN, ABC and ESPN Deportes will combine to televise five matches from Sunday, Oct. 11, through Nov. 8 during the final stretch of Major League Soccer’s 25th season, while more than 75 MLS Live out-of-market matches will be streamed exclusively on ESPN+ during the final month of the season. The ESPN/ABC schedule will feature some of MLS’s top rivalries and Western Conference powerhouse teams LAFC, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy.
ESPN networks will combine to televise eight MLS is Back Tournament knockout round matches from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex beginning Saturday, July 25, with a Round of 16 doubleheader in primetime – Orlando City SC vs. Montreal Impact (8 p.m. ET) and Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution (10:30 p.m.) on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise three additional MLS is Back Tournament group stage matches in English on Monday and Tuesday
Lead MLS Announcers John Strong and Stu Holden Call All Matches
LOS ANGELES – FOX Sports celebrates the return of American men’s soccer with the MLS is Back Tournament from July 11-August 5 across FOX and FS1. The network’s 16-match presentation features two of the nation’s leading soccer voices – John Strong and Stu Holden. Rob Stone hosts studio coverage each matchday alongside Alexi Lalas, with Maurice Edu and Holden joining throughout the tournament.
FOX Sports gives viewers the opportunity to watch matches with or without enhanced audio throughout the tournament. FOX and FS1 present the only English-language telecasts with crowd noise audio, produced from the network’s Los Angeles studios. On digital devices, including the FOX Sports app, viewers can choose from dedicated streams with or without added crowd noise.
FOX’s coverage opens Group E play Saturday, July 11 at 8:00 PM ET as Atlanta United face the New York Red Bulls. The action continues at 10:30 PM ET on FS1 with the “Hell is Real” derby between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew.
The network’s group stage slate features past MLS Cup champions and historic rivalries. The lineup includes two appearances each by Columbus Crew SC, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy along with matches featuring Atlanta United, Chicago Fire FC, D.C. United, FC Cincinnati, LAFC, New England Revolution, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Strong and Holden are on the call for all tournament matches. The full tournament schedule can be found here.
The matches can be live streamed via FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app on iOS and Android as well as connected devices, including Apple TV, Android TV, FireTV, Roku, Chromecast and Xbox One.
Last night’s MLS is Back Tournament opening match – a 2-1 Orlando City SC victory over in-state rival Inter Miami CF – averaged 492,000 viewers on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen. This is the second most-viewed MLS regular-season telecast (over 64 matches) on ESPN networks since March 11, 2018, when 583,000 people (2+) tuned in for DC United vs. Atlanta United; behind 663,000 combined viewers for the 2020 season-opening LAFC-Inter Miami CF match on March 1.