According to World Soccer Talk, Atlanta United’s match Sunday vs. the Portland Timbers, aired on the national broadcast network FOX, drew more than 1 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched regular-season matches in the history of the league. The viewership number lands just shy of the regular-season record, set in 2008 (LA Galaxy vs D.C. United on ABC), reportedly at 1.2 million viewers.
FOX's broadcast of Atlanta United vs. Portland on Sunday averaged 1,074,000 viewers, which is one of @MLS' best viewing figures on English-language television in a very, very long time. #MLS #ATLUTD #RCTID pic.twitter.com/t6Y3ltOsP3— World Soccer Talk (@worldsoccertalk) June 26, 2018
FOX seems to be experimenting with TV slots to help boost MLS ratings. Last season, FOX aired an NFL/MLS package, with Atlanta United vs. Montreal Impact and LA Galaxy vs. Sporting Kansas City following the 1 p.m. NFL game. FOX drew a combined average of 1.35 million viewers for the MLS broadcasts.
There are a confluence of factors at play that helped the viewership, the most obvious among them being that the game was aired nationally on a broadcast network. Additionally, the game followed a World Cup match (Poland vs. Colombia) on the very same channel. It’s great exposure for the league, and with Atlanta United also playing immediately following the World Cup Final on July 15, one would only expect numbers for that match to eclipse this most recent record.