Saturday’s MLS Cup was a matchup between a pair of sides with some of the most vocal and passionate fanbases in the league. Unsurprisingly, the interest in the match showed on a national level.
According to ratings relased by FOX Sports, the Atlanta United/Portland Timbers final drew a 1.2 rating, the highest for the game in 20 years. It also saw a huge jump from the previous year’s edition between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders.
Corrected: Last night’s MLS Cup Final on FOX drew a 1.2 metered market rating, the best rating for a cup final since at least ‘98 and up 71% compared to last year’s final.— Ian Thomas (@byIanThomas) December 9, 2018
Per @FoxSportsPR, last night's MLS Cup Final pulled 11.5 rating in Atlanta.— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) December 9, 2018
If my math is correct, that's about 280,000 TV homes in the Atlanta DMA.
Nationally, it was the highest rated MLS Cup Final in at least 20 years.
Steven Goff from the Washington Post released a market-by-market breakdown, and, of course, Atlanta and Portland led the way:
Overnight ratings for Fox Sports coverage of #mlscup are coming in. Top 10 markets:— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) December 9, 2018
W Palm Beach 1.9
Washington DC 1.3
While these may not look like huge numbers, from a relative standpoint this is big news for the league. Having a pair of U.S. teams and one in a top 10 television market along with little competition from other networks on a traditionally slow TV-watching night helps, but some of the cities on this list - Milwaukee being the highest-rated city outside of Atlanta and Portland - coupled with the big jump over last year’s ratings shows that MLS of 2018 is a far cry from MLS of 1998.
Things can only get better from here. While Atlanta United are celebrating its first championship, there’s plenty for the league to celebrate today, too.