Fox’s broadcast of the 2018 MLS Cup final between Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers drew 1.56 million total viewers in primetime Saturday night, making it the most-watched MLS title game since 1997, the U.S. pro soccer league’s second year of existence.
Viewership for the game — a 2-0 victory for the hometown United in front of an MLS-record crowd of 73,019 at Mercedes-Benz Arena — jumped more than 90% from last year’s final, when Toronto beat Seattle on ESPN in a rematch of the 2016 final. Fox Sports, ESPN and Univision are in the midst of eight-year MLS TV rights deals that include Fox and ESPN alternating broadcasting the final.
According to Nielsen, Saturday’s game peaked at 2.07 million viewers from 10-10:15 PM ET near the end of the match, which United controlled for most of the way.
Fox Sports said the game was its most-streamed MLS event ever, pulling in an average minute audience of 23,212.