Which US city had the highest TV ratings on Fox for Chelsea's dramatic Champions League final win over Bayern Munich? MIAMI, of course.
1. (tie) Miami, Austin (TX) 2.6
2. Dallas 2.2
3. (tie) Washington DC, New York City 2.1
Some people have already e-mailed me saying it is perplexing that a city that consistently tops US TV ratings for international soccer hasn't been a hotbed for MLS and Strikers struggle to draw. I don't find it perplexing. Au contraire. This is a very soccer-savvy market. People here devour the World Cup, Champions League, La Liga, EPL. They know who the world's top players are, and their children wear those jerseys around town more than they wear Dolphin jerseys (I see it in my daughter's middle school..when it's jersey day, way more kids wear Barca, Real Madrid, ManU jerseys than NFL or MLB. Only Heat competes). Now that there is SO MUCH European and South American soccer on TV, fans here would rather watch their favorite teams and stars on TV than sit in a local stadium and watch teams and players they don't identify with. Soccer snobs? Perhaps. But it is what it is. For MLS to work here, my opinion, needs to be the right owner, with a 25,000-seat high-quality soccer-specific stadium in Miami, and some star players to get people excited.
In other soccer news Tuesday, beINsports USA, Al Jazeera's new US soccer broadcasting arm, is reporting that it hired veteran broadcaster Phil Schoen, who had been doing LaLiga games for GOL-TV since 2003. Other big names are expected to follow, both English and Spanish-speaking.
beINsports will own rights to LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1...and don't be surprised if they go after English Premier League next. Question is whether they'll get cable contracts done in time for August 1 launch.
Their broadcast center will be in Miami, at Imagina studios. Stay tuned...GOL, FOX, ESPN certainly paying close attention.
Reminder: Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Lockhart Stadium: Ft. Lauderdale Strikers vs. Fresno Fuego in US Open Cup second round. Winner goes to Stanford, Calif. May 29 to face MLS San Jose Earthquakes.