If we throw out the Super Bowl last weekend, which is normally the biggest television event of a given year, and featured record ratings of 114.4 million, what does the rest of the sporting landscape look like right now on TV?
Well, Univision Deportes seems to be doing pretty well, as they sent out a media release on Friday touting their Liga MX ratings, which they say is outperforming other networks' soccer coverage in the U.S. across all languages, and is doing better than some of the other major American pro sports leagues.
This is the fourth consecutive week Univision Deportes has delivered the most-watched soccer matches across all networks.
The Univision broadcast of America vs. Tigres on Saturday 6 p.m. ET delivered 1.0 million Total Viewers and 580,000 Adults 18-49, besting the NBA on TNT (Denver vs. Memphis) by +40% and +73%, respectively.
In addition, the America vs. Tigres match out-delivered four live NBA games on TNT and NBA TV last week, six live NHL games on NBC Sports Network, and four live English Premier League matches on NBC Sports Network.
Obviously there are some caveats built into those points and into the release overall, but when we talk about the soccer coverage between various networks, we often ignore the Spanish-language side of the equation (with a few exceptions like Philadelphia-based journalist Jonathan Tannenwald, who tries to give a wider picture of soccer on TV across languages on a consistent basis).
So what's the point here? It's a pretty obvious one: soccer in the United States, on TV at least, is fundamentally bilingual (in person, it's more like multilingual, obviously). Is it possible to only watch English-language and Spanish-language coverage? Certainly, and to an extent, there is a venn diagram of which leagues are emphasized in which languages (you can probably gather which is which based on a league's primary language, though there is also overlap with the biggest leagues around).
Numerically, English speakers still outnumber Spanish speakers in the United States by a substantial margin. But the cultural importance of soccer in Latin America means its influence is more balanced on the whole in the U.S. than many other components of Latino cultures.
To put it another way: Liga MX (and other Latin American leagues and competitions available on American TV) are important, sometimes far more important in the regional conversation about soccer than the latest faux-controversy in the English Premier League or La Liga. I don't think anyone would argue that Liga MX or the Argentine Primera or the Copa Libertadores are the pinnacle of global soccer, but they aren't chopped liver, either.
And if you want to be an informed soccer fan of the world, and you aren't crossing the language divide from time to time when watching soccer, you're probably not truly an informed soccer fan.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!