NBC Sports Group’s Premier League Soccer Season Kicks Off to U.S. Ratings Record

More than 3.3 million people tuned in to five telecasts — the most ever for an opening Premier League weekend in the U.S.

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American soccer fans are looking for their fix after the 2014 World Cup, leaving NBC Sports Group to reap the ratings rewards.

A U.S. record 3.3 million people tuned in to NBC Sports Group’s opening weekend of Premier League coverage — featuring England’s best club teams — NBC said Tuesday. Last year, the opening Premier League weekend pulled in 3.2 million, three percent fewer viewers.

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It wasn’t just the weekend’s total audience that set a record for NBC Sports — several other benchmarks were reached throughout the weekend: Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday was the most-watched opening weekend match in U.S. history, up 12 percent from 2013’s Swansea City-Manchester United game.

Also, Sunday’s Newcastle-Manchester City match on NBCSN averaged 514,000 viewers, topping the previous cable record, owned by ESPN (Aug. 18, 2012’s 476,000 viewers).

The five games on NBC and NBC Sports Network averaged 545,000 viewers — up 23 percent from last year (443,000); the four that aired on cable also set an opening-weekend mark on that realm.

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In the digital world, fans streamed more than 8.9 million minutes of action — tops for a Premier League weekend — via NBC Sports Live Extra, the live-streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets. That figure is a 56 percent increase from last year’s (5.7 million minutes) debut weekend of the Premier League season.

Among major U.S. markets tuning in, Washington, D.C. ranked first, followed by Boston, Baltimore, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Chicago.

When coverage resumes this weekend with Aston Villa-Newcastle at 7:45 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Group is counting on the positive post-World Cup momentum to continue.

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Here are the Top 15 markets from the weekend:

1. Washington, D.C.
2. Boston
3. Baltimore
4. West Palm Beach
5. Chicago
6. Las Vegas
7. Norfolk
8. Providence
9. Seattle
10. Sacramento
11. New Haven
12. Dallas
13. Philadelphia
14. New Orleans
15. Denver