The November 22nd matchup between Arsenal and Manchester United became the most watched EPL game in US history. The Man U 2-1 win over Arsenal averaged 1.41 million viewers, breaking the previous record of 1.38 million set with a Chelsea/Man U game in February 2012.
What is interesting to note is that the Chelsea/Man U game that held the record occurred on Fox and was on during the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. Even though it was at 9 AM eastern time, the game had the luxury of no sports as direct competition as well as having vastly different programming such as news shows, kids shows and infomercials. You know, the normal Sunday morning TV shows.
On the flip side, though the Arsenal/Man U game was shown on NBC, it was in direct competition with the 12 noon college football games. It was actually an even bigger disadvantage for Arsenal/Man United. The soccer game started at 12:30 so the soccer game started a half hour behind all the football games that were on during that time. Mighty impressive to break a record when your biggest TV competition had a half hour head start. Even though 1.41 million viewers still isn’t an impressive number to some of the more mainstream sports, it’s definitive growth for a European based soccer league and soccer in general. The consistent growth is going to likely result in higher rights fees when the EPL US TV rights contract talks open up in the near future.