By Keave Tollington – Twitter: @KeaveT
Over 36,000 British MLS and football fans tuned in to watch Orlando City vs New York City last night on Sky Sports 3 with 25,000 of them staying on for the later game between Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls.
The phrases “MLS”, “Kaka” and “ORLvNYC” were among the most popular UK Twitter trends late on Sunday night as Major League Soccer made a real splash across the pond.
On first glance at these figures it will become apparent that they are nowhere near the millions that Sky Sport’s regularly pull in for Barclays Premier League matches. However for matches played late on a Sunday night which received minimal advertisement prior, this is an impressive count, and one that will likely rise throughout the year.Embed from Getty Images
Major League Soccer had struggled to gain traction across the Atlantic for most of its early existence. Things changed when David Beckham made the move to LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 as MLS started to become more talked about in the UK.
The 2015 season has probably been the most anticipated MLS season in both the US and the UK so far. With global legends like Kaka, David Villa, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard taking to the field this year, most Brits are recognising the prosperity and importance of MLS in world football development.
Another factor that has been boosting the growth of MLS as a global franchise was the talent that the US Men’s National Team brought to the World Cup last summer in Brazil. DeAndre Yedlin – a former Seattle Sounders right-back, is one of several USMNT players who exceeded expectations in Rio. Yedlin was quickly offered a contract by Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur and while Yedlin is yet to make an appearance for Spurs, his arrival has caused a considerable amount of interest towards MLS amongst Tottenham fans.
Sky Sports announced their four-year TV deal with MLS late last month which includes the broadcasting of at least 2 MLS games live each week as well as all the MLS Playoff games and the MLS All-Star game.
That deal has undoubtedly helped to boost the image and reputation of MLS in the UK and the first weekend of live broadcasting has proved to be a success. Viewing figures should rise throughout the year as more and more Brits become fans of MLS.
Upcoming televised games live on Sky Sports in the UK:
Sunday 15th March 2015
New York City FC v New England Revolution – 21:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Portland Timbers v LA Galaxy – 23:00 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD
Saturday 21st March 2015
Colorado Rapids v New York City FC – 20:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD
Sunday 22nd March 2015
New York Red Bulls v DC United – 21:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD
Saturday 28th March 2015
DC United v LA Galaxy – 23:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD
Sunday 29th March 2015
Chicago Fire v Philadelphia Union – 22:00 Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD