The final Nielsen ratings are in for David Beckham's MLS debut on ESPN. The game, broadcast on Saturday July 21 at 9 p.m. ET, was seen in an average of 947,000 television homes by almost 1.5 million viewers. According to Nielsen Media Research, the game was the most-viewed Major League Soccer telecast ever on ESPN or ESPN2. It was also the most-viewed and highest-rated program of the night on ad-supported cable networks among Men 18-49 and 25-54.
According to an ESPN press release:
The match beat the previous most-viewed telecast – DC United vs. San Jose Clash on April, 4, 1996 – seen in 681,000 homes (1.092 million, P2+), based on a 1.0 rating. The DC United vs. San Jose Clash was the first match in the League’s 12-year history.
David Beckham’s MLS debut also beat the most-viewed U.S. Soccer National Team match (excluding FIFA World Cup tournament) on ESPN or ESPN2. Previously, the most-viewed U.S. National Team telecast was seen in 680,000 homes (915,000, P2+) and 0.9 rating for the Oct. 3, 1997, World Cup qualifying match between Jamaica and the U.S. on ESPN.