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Fuel Soccer Talk: The All-Premier League edition

NBC Sports Nets Record Audience With Premier League match

Well, I guess I wasn’t the only one watching soccer on a beautiful sunny day in August. NBC Sports Group reported record ratings with its Premier League coverage of the Manchester United vs. Chelsea match last weekend – another great sign that soccer is starting to gain traction in our wonderful country.

Sunday’s Manchester United-Chelsea match on NBCSN ranked as the most watched opening weekend Premier League cable match in U.S. history and the most watched match in the past four years. Christian Pulisic’s presence on the Chelsea side certainly was a factor in the large viewership here in the states. The American came on during the second half of the Blues 4-0 loss to United at Old Trafford. According to Soccer America, the game registered a total audience of 1.01 million viewers, the most since 1.16 million tuned in to watch Manchester United-Manchester City in 2015.

The programmer is in the second of a three-year, $250 million rights deal with England’s top-flight futbol circuit. Last year, NBC counted some 3.4 million watchers across four matches on NBC Sports Network, a pair on mun2 and a single contest on NBC, according to Nielsen data. That was the most for a Premier League opening weekend in the U.S., said NBC Sports Group officials.

In 2018, the five English-language games on NBC and NBCSN garnered 3.2 million viewers – a 52 percent jump from the 2.1 million total for the five games on the previous rights-holders, Fox Soccer and ESPN2, the previous year.

Manchester United opens with impressive win over Chelsea

Manchester United ran riot at Old Trafford to begin the season, routing Chelsea 4-0 to hand Frank Lampard and Christian Pulisic Chelsea debuts to forget. Even many of the skeptical United fans – and there are plenty of those – had to be pleased with the way the Reds opened the season with four goals to nil against a decent Chelsea side.

But as former standout Gary Neville said after the match, United has plenty of room for improvement. “They will see that there are a lot of things they will like to change especially in the first half,” Neville said. “There was so much space out there and Chelsea had three or four really good chances.”

Neville said while it was a good day for Manchester United, he wouldn’t get too excited over the way they played.

It was the Chelsea debut for Pulisic, who played in the second half. Hopefully the talented young American gets the start today (Aug. 14) against Liverpool.

Where does your team rank after the first weekend?

ProSoccerTalk, part of NBC Sports, is trying to put a new spin on its weekly Premier League power rankings this season. They rank Watford at No. 20 and of course Manchester City at No. 1 – the defending champs aren’t moving off that mark anytime soon – IMO. As they point out, City won 5-0 without an injured Bernardo Silva and before getting Joao Cancelo into the mix.

But how they rank Manchester United second – ahead of both Liverpool and Tottenham – is baffling. But we will let them explain.

POWER RANKINGS 

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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