MLS Primetime Thursday is gone: Good news or bad?

MLSPrimetimeThursdayLogo 

If the weekly ESPN broadcast of MLS Primetime Thursday was a regular part of your viewing schedule two things are clear. You are in a very small minority, and you will need to find something else to watch on Thursday nights (at least on some occasions).

The Sports Business Journal reported today that ESPN has scrapped MLS Primetime Thursday, opting instead to continue a weekly airing of MLS matches on a variety of days ranging from Wednesday to Saturday.

ESPN will still air MLS matches every week, but now only 10 out of 27 weeks will feature Thursday night matches, with matches now being shown on Saturday (eight matches), Wednesday (six matches) and Friday (three matches).

What's my take? As disappointing as it is to hear that numbers weren't great for the Primetime Thursday series, should we really be surprised? Thursday night is the toughest night on television, with several of TVs heavy hitters airing on network television. Having matches on different nights should allow us to get a better sense of what kind of audience is actually out there for MLS, and which night might wind up working better.

What do you think of this development? Glad to see Primetime MLS moving around or did you prefer the Thursday slot every week?

Share your thoughts below.

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79 Responses to MLS Primetime Thursday is gone: Good news or bad?

  1. SCNewJersey says:

    as long as there are no games on Scrubs night (now tuesday, used to be thursdays.. causing a dilema), i’m cool (in the sense of being ok with it, not in the hip sense as i openly admit to watching Scrubs)

    (aren’t parentheses fun?)

  2. patagonia says:

    It’s bad. I loved watching the Fire play on Thursday nights. Though I wouldn’t follow every other game, it was nice to see the MLS on in primetime. It was also nice to know that I could the MLS every Thursday if I chose. The fact that they can’t hold that timeslot is not encouraging, but it isn’t the end of the world.

  3. Chrös says:

    I’d always wanted to watch MLS games on Thursday night but it just never happened. Whether it was going out or watching the Office etc., instead, I always thought Thursday night was no good.

    The Saturday matches will be great, especially in the summer when there is nothing else on at that time.

    I really think this is a good development.

  4. Trex says:

    I’m disappointed that the ratings weren’t there, but glad it will be switching around, I agree we have a better chance of “making it” on other days. It just blows my mind that MLS cannot get more airtime on ESPN especially when you look at some of the JUNK ESPN puts on such as WNBA, NHL, Strongest Man, Poker(yes it’s fun to watch but only to a point), etc. etc.

    Maybe I’m unrealistic, but I’ve got to believe that there’s more people interested in watching soccer than the ratings say. Someday.

  5. Andrew says:

    Probably a good decision. I watched Primetime Thursday every week, but this is a more intelligent programming move. As long as I can still get my MLS fix, I am happy.

    PS Bring back Eric Wynalda

  6. Furball says:

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised. I’m more disappointed in MLS for not making a better effort to field players that mainstream sports fan would be intersted in watching. They have really blew it with the DP rule and not taking advantage of it. Beckham is still the only noteworthy player in the league for average fans. They have dropped the ball by not trying to attract the names like Figo, (fat)Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Vieri, Owens, Zidane, Ronaldinho and others. Us die hards will watch anything and respect the players in MLS, but to attract a larger audience, Bigger names have to be brought in. Stop being afraid of the Cosmos legacy.

  7. jamesey says:

    MLS should have made it Prime Time Wednesday to tie in with Champions League. That would also give the teams involved more rest for a Sunday match.

  8. hokieunited says:

    Personally, I really enjoyed the games on Thursday. I knew it was at least once a week that was dedicated to the MLS by ESPN.

    Problem is (at least the way I see it) is that nothing is going to change with this switch. ESPN never promoted these MLS games properly, never showed highlights on Sportscenter, etc. so its no wonder why it failed.

    I don’t think that changing the day around will fix anything, if they continue with their measly promotional campaign. The numbers will poor otherwise, and the MLS needs to encourage ESPN to change their ways, otherwise, it will always struggle on ESPN.

  9. Trex says:

    Speaking of which, this is something that annoyed me all last year. Why did MLS go through all the trouble of making a catchy theme song for the beginning of games only to have all tv broadcasts cut out whenever it’s played? I don’t want to hear the announcers giving their unimportant opinions while the players are walking out on the pitch, I wanna see that!

    Get the cameras on the field when the players are walking out and the theme song (which is actually pretty good) is blasting and the crowd is cheering.

    If you make it look like it’s important, then people will think it’s important.

    I know it’s a little thing, but sometimes those things make all the difference.

  10. M says:

    This is actually a really good idea because attendance will be higher for the weekend games. Think about how many times you’ve seen empty stadiums on Thursday ESPN games.

  11. Bob says:

    Well thanks to Mr Tivo no worries. Plus sometimes there are weak teams playing on Thursday when a great game is going to be on Sunday or Sat and no way to see it. So now that game could in theory be seen.

  12. Oscillate says:

    Bummed that ESPN isn’t committing to Thursdays. This means MLS and the network are really going to have to work to create awareness and visibility for the staggered TV schedule.

  13. Blake says:

    For whatever reason, Thursdays always end up busy for me, so this should be solid. But my brother’s getting me MLSliveTV for my birthday, so I’ll be covered either way.

  14. Brett says:

    It’s clear ESPN “the main station” doesn’t care to raise the profile of the game.

    They were all too eager to lap up viewers with “Beckham cam” during the first match where he spent 80 some-odd minutes on the bench, a camera dedicated to watching him sit, warm up, sit, warm up, and then finally jog around for a while.

    But the station does little lese to promote the game. Even the most important US MNT matches get pushed to ESPN2 or even ESPN Classic while “World Series of Poker” gets primetime billing 4 nights a week. It’s enough to make you spit if you dont have FSC, Gol TV, or one of the other available footy channels.

    I’m not necessarily sad to see MLS Thursday go, primarily because ESPN gave it that slot knowing that most people would be watching something else. As long as they continue to show a little MLS action for me to enjoy, there will be little to no change in my opinion.

  15. biological says:

    this really pisses me off. i would frequently alter my work schedule/school studying in order to watch matches.

    since it was on a regular night it was easy to do this. i have no inention of trying to figure out what days the matches are on/not on. it’s too much trouble.

    looks like my mlsnet subscription will get more viewing, even if it will be only highlights of matches.

  16. Isaac says:

    ….wait im confuzzled….is ESPN going to be broadcoasting MLS every week still but just on different days or just every once in a while randomly?

  17. Joe says:

    I think they should make it a Friday night or Saturday night. The turn out for Thursday games was usually terrible which made it even worse to watch on tv. It is always a better turn out on a Sat than a Thurs.

  18. kpugs says:

    ESPN, the “worldwide leader in sports,” doesn’t even pretend to give the world’s leading sport fair coverage. It’s that simple.

    They make fun of soccer every chance they get on that channel in any non-soccer broadcast. I remember a MetroStars game getting bumped by WNBA once. This is all on ESPN, not on the fans of MLS.

  19. SonicDeathMonkey says:

    Not so fast on the TiVo option Bob. According to the article, ESPN is planning to have a lot more live programming to lead into the games. When was the last time a College Football or Basketball game ended on time? Be prepared to see games start on ESPN Classic and then go to the deuce 20 minutes into the match.

  20. randall says:

    i think having a highlight/wrapup show is far more important. fans are going to find the games, but we need a way to follow the league as a whole.

    other than fsc and/or goltv that is- which im sure isnt an option for espn programmers.

  21. Dominghosa says:

    As long as MLS is till being shown on the most recognized sports channel in the U.S., it is a good thing.

  22. tilt215 says:

    Believe it or not, the head of ESPN is a huge soccer fan and wants nothing more than to see the MLS make it in this country.

    That being said, while I always enjoyed watching games on a certain night, I have to admit I think this is a great idea. As previously stated, there were many awful games on thursday nights and most of the important games that should have been on ESPN weren’t because those games were played on saturday. I would be interested to see if their new approach is to float their schedule and pick up games that they feel will be more entertaining to watch as the season unfolds. This is how many networks deal with the NFL; while they know they will be showing a game, they don’t always know what game will make national coverage at the start of the season. Plus, thursday night attendance always sucked.

  23. Cindy says:

    i’ll miss the continuity of mls thursdays, but aside from that it doesn’t really mess with my schedule too much and probably gives mls match nights at better chance at higher ratings by showing weekend games

  24. MattJack says:

    why not just have a ESPN soccer channel? they could show MLS games, and old champions league games in HD.. whoever gets an HD soccer channel first will win the TV ratigns war. FSC and Gol TV suck. they have HD ads on their channels ,but dont broadcast in HD. im tired of watching blurry players run up and down the field on my 40″ tv.

  25. Kevin says:

    I wish they had done this earlier… there have been a bunch of times over the last few seasons where I have hosted a pretty big Thursday night get-together to watch the Fire, but with 1/2 my friends in attendance going and watching the Office in my bedroom for the half hour it was on. As long as they still show a game per week on ESPN2 I don’t really care what night it’s on, although I would rather that they showed 2 or 3 games instead of showing a bunch of poker or world’s strongest man re-runs.

  26. Oranje Mike says:

    As long as MLS games are still being broadcast then I’m fine with the new schedule. It’s not imparative that MLS games are played on a fixed night. Low ratings are no suprise. I didn’t watch very often when the Fire weren’t playing. That’s the nature of the beast. I don’t really watch any sport unless it’s my team.

  27. RedLine55 says:

    I did watch primetime thursdays regularly, mostly because it seemed like the Fire played every single one of them.
    But I can understand why the ratings were pretty poor. I’m not sure Friday or Saturday will be too much better, but I guess it’s worth a shot. The saturday night games will be kind of like the good Mexican league games that air on the same nights. fun stuff, can’t wait for the season to start.

  28. This Guy says:

    I really enjoyed Primetime Thursdays. I even had an agreement with my wife about Thursday. Guess I’ll have to make a new contract up.

    Also, Don’t know if anyone is reporting this on the DP blogs but Landon Donovan scored again.

    That’s 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 games.

  29. Sterlinho says:

    It really sucks for us on the west coast. I could count on heading straight home from work (or leaving early for a good game)on Thursdays and still catching The Office. It’s going to be a pain in the butt to “find” the games that ESPN will be airing.

  30. J says:

    I could care less which night they play the games on as long as they continue to air them.

  31. tilt215 says:

    MattJack,

    Word on the street is ESPN is making a very large push at gaining the US rights of the EPL from Fox. IF this happened, they would change ESPN Classic to ESPN Soccer and I am sure MLS would have a nice home on that network.

  32. zongzap says:

    midweek games are tough for fans and players and are probably better off gone. TV games don’t do the league any good when the camera shows vast numbers of empty seats.

    Players – can’t play Thursday and go again Saturday or Sunday so they end up with a week and a half off.

    I think Wed might be better for players but still not going to put butts in the seats

  33. EDB says:

    I’m glad. now hopefully we can get rid of the mid week game.

  34. Chris says:

    I’m not at all surprised. Soccer just fails to attract viewers in this country. I for one never missed a Thursday night. I’ll give up almost anything for soccer. Too bad everyone else doesn’t think the same.

  35. Andre` says:

    I like the new format, personally.
    I kind of disliked that MLS had its own night and how they specifically schedule matches so they would air on television. It feels more like ESPN is adjusting to MLS now, rather thatn a league revolving around a channels best interests.

  36. michael says:

    So what happens to the Saturday night games on Fox Soccer Channel? Do the swap and do weekday games do I get screwed out of one game for 8 weeks.

  37. foozer says:

    I thought it was nice to have a consistent time slot, but even as a die-hard MLS fan, I would watch The Office over any game in which my team weren’t playing (in which case I’d be at the game). Hopefully this allows them more flexibility and they can pick out better games to showcase.

  38. Bill says:

    Personally, I went out of my way to watch PrimeTime Thursday. But even the casual soccer fan wasn’t watching. My friends at school were able to watch the 230 champions league starts on espn2 but never watched Thursday nights. I think a variety of nights is best.

  39. PCFC says:

    NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is BY FAR my favorite thing about Thursday. This is terrible terrible news. I tried to catch EVERY MLS ESPN game. I hate this news!

  40. mike says:

    i think this is bad because i used to know that a game would be on thursday now i wont be sure making it harder for me to watch. if people dont no when the game is there is a better chance of them missing it.

  41. Isaac says:

    I watched Primetime every Thursday it was on. The only time i didnt do it was when Dish Network crashed at my place. TWC is much better. The ESPN Soccer Channel sounds like a great development. If it doesn’t happen then its a going to be the final indication that ESPN really doesn’t give a flying flip about Soccer/Football/Futbol.

  42. Isaac says:

    …mike…cant they just check on ESPNSoccer.net?

  43. tom says:

    I am pleased that “prime time” Thursday has been scrapped. I’m not pleased that they will replace it with 10 Thursdays and 6 Wednesday’s and 2 Friday’s. All games should all be on Saturday at 7:30 local time.

    The weekday games are difficult for this fan to attend and one of the primary reasons I did not renew my season tickets.

  44. Tom P says:

    this sucks. Does hockey get higher ratings?

  45. Al17 says:

    AMEN!!!!
    MLS on Thursday nights was a joke and should have never been. Lemme see, we’ll play the day before the start of the weekend at some whack ass time for all to watch on TV in other markets.
    DUMB!!!

    Friday night Football would have been better provided the matches started later than the norm – more people are probably willing to take off or at the very least leave work early to watch those matches. Hell, I attended absolutely ZERO Thursday night Fire matches. Lemme see, leave the gig early to fight with traffic to the match then either go to work the next day or take it off and let’s not forget that I left early in order to get to the match. Not happening unless it’s a World Cup Qualifier or final rounds of Open Cup.

  46. john godfrey says:

    This would not be happening if Garber and Co. had lifted the salary cap and allowed the MLS to attract decent talent to the league. I’ve tried to watch MLS on Thursdays, but I can’t. Lousy, lousy talent in this league. Until that changes, MLS doesn’t have a chance to succeed.

  47. A. Ruiz says:

    The office? That wasn’t even an issue in 2008. The office’s season was cut short due to the strike. They rarely overlapped if at all. Also through late may/early sept there are basically no quality shows airing new episodes.

    Also 30 Rock>Office, seriously. The Office jumped the shark awhile ago.

    I don’t like this, I never missed a Thursday night game but I missed pretty much all the Saturday FSC games.
    I was either at a Fire game or getting home from one. Or I was out drinking and generally being an urban twenty-something year old.

  48. BK says:

    tilt215,that’s funny that you say that b/c the past week or so, I’ve been seeing a lot of EPL scores running across the bottom of ESPN. Something I’ve NEVER seen before except on Champions League days. These are actually running at the bottom of Sportcenter and that did seem odd to me. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. I would worry about that though. I would hope that if ESPN decides to broadcast the EPL that they keep the English announcers and just broadcast it that way. God knows ESPN can butcher soccer as they have multiple times in the past.

    This brings to the point that I think MLS is always going to tank on ESPN b/c they don’t actually discuss the games when they’re on. Most of the time, it’s a discussion about some of the field crap or who John Harkes played with once or something. There’s never a focus. There’s never any sense of humor. It’s like everyone that’s related to soccer at ESPN is soccer-retarded. Why hasn’t Ives been drafted yet? He’s already on the payroll.

  49. Glenn says:

    How can you have ratings when espn won’t

    promote the league. No sportscenter highlights! Espn has hurt american soccer!

  50. Greg says:

    Ives

    Here is a survey for you to do, how many of your readers out there have ever had one of those Neilson rating boxes in there home? I know I sure would like to have one.

  51. doug says:

    hmmm the office or kc v rsl 30 rock or col/la, csi or chivas v fire

    put games on tuesday. tuesday is the worst nite of TV except for scrubs

  52. aristotle says:

    Big surprise!

    Someone needs to conduct an undercover investigation to try and find out whether ESPN is deliberately trying to sabotage soccer. I honestly believe that the only reason ESPN is involved with soccer is to help destroy it.

    Right from the beginning the ESPN crew has openly hated and trashed soccer, so when they started acting like they were trying to support it at the same time that they were trashing it, I never believed it for a moment. I believe the only reason they have “supported” it is so they can make it seem like they boosted it so that they could eventually say that even with their great “support” nobody likes soccer. As crazy as this may sound, it’s even crazier to believe that a network allows it’s network to constantly bash soccer while they were supposedly trying to promote it and make a profit from it. Besides, their “promotion” has been awful. They promote and present refrigerator racing in a much more professional and entertaining way than they do soccer. I think the hatred of soccer goes very high up in ESPN and I think they are even willing to lose money and stage phony promotion to try and keep it from breaking into mainstream American sports.

    People will say I’m crazy, but something really stinks about ESPN’s “promotion” of soccer.

  53. Justin O says:

    Aristotle – Your not crazy, just competely and utterly irrational. This has nothing to do with soccer as a sport, and everything to do with MLS as a league. It has been clearly shown, and ESPN knows, that Americans will watch soccer on TV. MLS is simply not among the types of soccer that many people will watch on TV.

    To me this is absolutely bad news. MLS ratings are so bad that ESPN is trying to limit the damage of showing MLS matches by putting them on timeslots that get lousy ratings regardless, thereby preventing MLS from damaging a valuable night such as Thursday.

    This isn’t about finding a night that will work, it’s about limiting the losses associated with broadcasting MLS.

  54. JDubs says:

    This is a shame. I made it a point to watch every Thursday, and now with Seattle getting a team, I (and thousands more) was (were) going to pay even more attention to the league. Guess I was one of too few. Shame on ESPN. Sign an exclusive contract with FSN and get national and regional coverage already.

  55. aristotle says:

    Justin O:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more on it having nothing to do with soccer as a sport. It has a LOT to do with soccer as a sport. Yes, I’ll grant you that MLS is still in the stage of just being for die hard fans who want to support and keep the league alive until it can thrive and do better, but there is a stigma attached to soccer that holds it back greatly. People are actually afraid to admit they want to watch soccer. Some fans hide the fact that they are fans until around the appropriate people. I myself was extremely close to being in a fist fight at work years ago because I a guy got in my face and told me I shouldn’t support soccer! Go to a regular bar, even in a restaurant, and see if you would dare ask that they turn on a soccer game. That’s NOT about MLS. They wouldn’t care what kind of soccer you put on. ESPN has been a major leader in making it “uncool” or “effeminate” to like soccer. Then there’s the “psychotic” soccer fans angle who supposedly riot at every game. MLS is probably the most peaceful and violence free league in the world so they’re not talking about MLS. It’s all lies or absurdly exaggerated and is never reported on much when it happens in American sports, but it is quite clear that it is about the sport itself.

    I also think you may be blaming too much of the problem on MLS regarding what you are talking about. In addition to the sport itself, presentation is a HUGE part of any sport. Let’s take a sport like football, basketball, or baseball, and present it in a very boring fashion. We’ll use announcers who are clueless about the sport, boring, and who spend half the broadcast talking about something other than the sport they are announcing. Let’s make the cameramen terrible so you miss a lot of the best moments or at least spoil them to some extent. Then let’s have the sports played in over sized stadiums with soccer markings on the field. Let’s see how quickly football, baseball, and basketball decline then. (Not to mention lets have cool sports types on ESPN make fun of those sports.)

    I agree that MLS plays a part in some problems, but no league can start out and survive against already established juggernaut sports without a major struggle for a long time.

    Bottom line: You don’t seem to lay ANY of the blame at the feet of ESPN which seems pretty odd to me. The Thursday thing was NEVER going to work. It was always going to make MLS and soccer look bad. I think that was it’s major appeal to ESPN. MLS needs desperately to get away from ESPN, but I don’t think they have too many options right now.

  56. Experience Dogood says:

    I’m sorry to learn the ratings were poor. I know MLS was hoping to make Thursday night primetime a mainstay, similar to the NFL’s Monday night football.

    I did watch Thursday night primetime most weeks. Not because it was convenient, but rather because I wanted to watch soccer and support the product. I’m glad they’re switching to a more flexible tv schedule. If the ratings were that bad, no reason to try and make it work. Besides, does it really matter that much with TIVO and DVR? I watch at least half of MLS games on my DVR. I only hope that still adds to the tv ratings!

    Experience

  57. me says:

    wdf i waited every week for thatf@^#in show the way it was filmed was so great an the way it should be.

  58. Daniel F. says:

    I think they should have ESPN 2 games on every Friday Night. Starts the weekend, then the Saturday Games, then the Telefutura Sunday game.

    You will see better coverage and the soccer fan will watch so the NBA fan won’t have a problem on their Friday Night games on regular ESPN.

  59. Jason says:

    It should be Wed anyways, that allows a double week so we can NOT play on FIFA dates.

  60. Brett says:

    I would like a stipulation that no games will be shown on TV that have the American Football lines painted on the field. It makes watching the game unbearable even for a supporter. In person it probably makes little difference but on TV the difference is huge.

  61. Justin O says:

    Aristotle – If the people in the US who already watch soccer all watched MLS, there would be no problem whatsoever with ratings. Those people already love the sport, and aren’t staying away because ESPN tells them soccer isn’t cool. They just have no interest in MLS as a league. EPL, MFL, World Cup, Euro Championship, sure. MLS? Not so much.

    I really can’t buy into the vast conspiracy argument and can no more respond to it than I can respond to the claims made by the militia guys holed up waiting for the black helicopters to come. You’re clearly letting the personal experience outlined in your first paragraph cloud your judgement. Sure, the lack of interest in soccer on the part of many at ESPN doesn’t help, but you’ve taken that to a paranoid extreme.

  62. Lot 8 says:

    NOOO!

    I watched probably every game on thursday in the past 2 years. I like the idea of the entire format of Primetime Thursday. Now its going to be squeeze in an MLS game when the WNBA doesn’t go into overtime. Damnit ESPN.

  63. aristotle says:

    Justin O:

    You’re being a little insulting, to say the least. You say “You’re clearly letting the personal experience outlined in your first paragraph cloud your judgement.” That makes no sense whatsoever. I just mentioned that as an example of how extreme people can be when it comes to soccer in America. Remove that experience and it changes absolutely nothing. I have a lifetime of American anti-soccer experiences. Do you live in a cave, or is it that you’re a Eurosnob? Soccer in America is what it is, and it’s ridiculously unpopular with the vast majority of non soccer fans. There is absolutely nothing conspiratorial in that regard. Now if you’re just talking about ESPN I could understand a little bit of what you’re saying, but even then it hardly seems that much of a stretch given ESPN’s strong anti-soccer sentiment. We have newspapers willfully losing money because they want to support an ideology more than they want to just report the news and improve their circulation. Is that another conspiracy?

    I think you’re a little off in your talk about “all of the people who watch soccer” angle. What you say is true but most of these people you are describing are transplants of one kind or another. They don’t have any loyalty to America and it’s league because they don’t care that much about America period. We’ve got people here from all over the world and they can watch the soccer from wherever they came from thanks to satellite and cable. They also probably have family and friends they can relate to from those countries about their particular soccer. If you’re an American who wants an American league you may have some interest in watching other leagues from around the world but your heart and your focus is on American soccer. If an American league can’t draw major support from Americans without foreign connections to overseas leagues then MLS will NOT survive. I’ll watch EPL and other world soccer, but I am going to support MLS first and foremost until it succeeds. I’m not going to keep stating how inferior it is compared to other leagues and stop watching it because other world leagues are better. People act like sports leagues were just created and instantly successful. The mighty NFL struggled when it started and it didn’t face anywhere near the competition MLS faces. I guess it’s a good thing there were no superior overseas leagues at the time they started.

    Thursday night soccer was an ill conceived idea, and I think ESPN knew that. MLS struggles to draw support during the week especially, and when you throw in the cheesy broadcasts and games with football lines and empty stadiums, it was just a matter of time. Watching those games you could quite often hear individual fans in the crowd because there were so few fans. You can have the final word if you want.

  64. JWM says:

    Whether or not the ESPN chief is a soccer fan, you would never know it from their broadcasts. Wynalda was the only anchor they ever had who was both knowledgeable and entertaining. They continue to air games with a focus on the casual fan as if it were 1999. The production value needs to be much, much better.

  65. STX81 says:

    I never felt that the production values were never up to ESPN’s standards. At least I won’t have to suffer through another Thursday night of commentators vomiting all over themselves calling any half decent play, ‘world class!’

  66. Erik says:

    I’m relieved. Thursday night games were lame. had to fight for the big T.V. with my wife and daughter, i.e. me, soccer, them Grey’s Anatomy. Personally, I’m happy that ESPN is spreading the games out over Wed, Thurs, Fri, & Sat. I still think Sunday night games would be the way to go during the summer.

  67. Strider says:

    I hope this will be an improvement. While it was nice to know that there was always a game on Thurs p.m., some of the matches were not the best for that week, to put it mildly. I hope this will allow ESPN to show the best matches each week. Although I saw almost every Thurs. match, sometimes a bit later that evening, I am good with moving the day matches are shown. It would be even better if they were willing to show MORE than 1 match per week. Even if some of them were not live. I hope it will also allow MLS to put a better foot forward as far as attendance is concerned. Those empty stadia sure look bad at times.

  68. brett says:

    i feel ESPN need to take a larger role in promoting the MLS if they want better ratings..

    they never show highlights of the weeks games during sportscenter… but what do you expect when the announcers know little to nothing about it…perhaps they could have a 3-5 min spot during sportscenter where they have someone who knows the sport run through the highlights… that still leaves plenty of time for gossip about baseball and steroids, football and T.O., and which Pacer’s player is being arrested today (which is funny as im from indy :D )…

    Thursday worked fine for me, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes on at 10pm ET, but i can always watch those online…

    my question is, are they having multiple games a week or simply still 1 game a week but it can range from wed thru sunday…

  69. I have hope that things have changed at ESPN. I wish the thursday game was left alone, but we’ll see. But I was soooo pissed at them the night I missed the first 10 minutes of a game because the WNBA went to overtime.

  70. Kartik says:

    This may stun people, but the hand writing was on the wall months ago. ESPN reported in October than ESPN2′s ratings for MLS in 2008 were lower than ESPN/ESPN2s ratings for MLS in 1998. I think two factors were at play:

    - Thursday night with competition from network TV and college football.

    - Increased competition for MLS on TV by European and Latin Football. In 1998, only the Mexican league was readily accessible as live competition for MLS. (I’m not talking about head to head competition but simply competition for football fans viewing). Now in 2008 we have EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, etc, etc on at various times on various days making MLS less unique and less attractive.

    Look it up. MLS averaged more viewers on ESPN in 1998 than 2008.

    This actually may be a blessing in disguise as now MLS can hone its product on less competitive night and evaluate what works best on TV.

  71. MiamiAl says:

    I was in that minority. I thought Primetime Thursday was pretty good!

  72. Frank says:

    I just couldn’t stay up to watch the games. I’d like to see more games from the West Coast but can’t wait around for a 10:30pm ET kick off. Hopefully, with some of the games on the weekend I’ll be able to watch more games. And no, I have no interest in watching a taped game, I’d rather watch a highlight show.

  73. Pete says:

    Well this change doesn’t make too much of a difference for me, except for the fact I can Watch the Office without missing The Fire or MLS action. Also I think It would be nice if MLS aired at least twice a week on ESPN, but that won’t happen until the ratings are better. Now that would be awesome if There was a ESPN Soccer channel but that we can only dream of right now.

  74. Am I disappointed? Yes. Thursday night was my night to sit down and watch and MLS match (and there was nothing else on anyway). It was a weekly routine for me.

    It is a bad thing? Well…sorta. As if the ever-changing weekly start time for the Thursday games wasn’t bad enough (is next week’s match at 7, 8, 8:30, 9…are we even going to see the first half when the WNBA goes into overtime?), finding the day of the week is going to be a real chore. The hardcore fans are going to have the listing taped onto the TV or next to the remote, but the casual fan has no way of finding it…unless ESPN actually starts promoting the games on TV (they actually had some decent promotion on ESPN Radio). But for the teams, it was win-lose. Yes, you’re on national TV. But then you’re on Thursday nights, and attendance for weeknight games is notably poor.

    My only thing (and I already mentioned this briefly), is that I hope there’s enough of a buffer between the lead-in programming and MLS. I always hated it when the WNBA or whatever would go into overtime and wipe out the first half of an MLS match (something that happened several times over the last two years).

    Finally, ESPN just needs to get a little more involved in getting an audience. The league and ESPN launched that “Football. Futbol. Soccer” campaign early last season, and I saw the ads for all of like three weeks. And always during the matches (when…duh…your hardcore fans are already watching). Open it up a little. And you’ve gotta find someone somewhere who will talk soccer elsewhere on the network. Mike and Mike, Colin Cowherd, ATH, PTI…no one else talks soccer. Talk it up, and you may just get more viewers.

  75. Jonny R says:

    I just want games on ESPN, not ESPN2, since I don’t get it with my cable package.

  76. papa bear says:

    while it sucks that there is no longer a ‘branded’ show for MLS on ESPN, it’s GREAT that on Saturdays and Sundays, they will conceivably be able to change which game they broadcast depending on how the seasons are going. Allowing for that in the NFL has helped their ratings immeasurably.

    There were a few games that looked great on the pre-season sked last year that ended up being real duds on Thursday night due to any number of factors that made 1 or both teams suck that year.

  77. mitch says:

    well if I think about it, I don’t even watch MLS, sometimes I feel I can even play with those guys and be better

  78. Ron says:

    mitch,

    If you don’t watch MLS, how do you know you can “play with those guys and be better”?

  79. sugarfreeredbull says:

    ESPN is bidding on the rights to broadcast Premier League matches beginning in 2010. Word is they will rename ESPN Classic ESPN 3 and that channel will be a dedicated soccer channel broadcast in the U.S. and Europe. MLS is definitely part of this larger plan for the network.