MLS Cup draws 20-year ratings high as Atlanta beat Portland
Atlanta United's 2-0 victory over Portland Timbers on Saturday night proved to be the most-watched MLS Cup Final in 20 years, according to official data.
The match on national network Fox drew a 1.2 metered market rating, Nielsen said, the best figure since 1998, as Atlanta won the MLS title in just their second season.
The audience was up 71 per cent on last year's final between Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders.
Unsurprisingly, Atlanta (11.5) and Portland (7.3) were the top two markets for the 2018 MLS Cup, followed by Milwaukee (2.2), West Palm Beach (1.9) and Austin (1.5).
The match held at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium attracted a crowd of 73,000, a record for a standalone MLS match.
Fox used the MLS Cup to debut the embedding of cameras in two of the four corner flags at the stadium.
It marked the first time technology of this type was used for the live broadcast of a soccer match on US soil.
Speaking before the game, Zachary Kenworthy, coordinating producer of Fox Sports, said: “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our productions across all properties. When we do go to those cameras, we want to give the viewer a very impactful, almost immersive experience.”
Michael Davies, senior vice-president of field and technical operations, Fox Sports, added: “There is probably a finite amount of camera positions left in terms of soccer coverage. We have seen the value of pylon cameras in American football from time to time, so we decided to try the corner flags.”
In 2016, Fox televised the MLS Cup Final live in virtual reality for the first time.