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Premier League debuts to improved ratings on NBC, NBCSN

The NBC Sports Group improved 67 percent from ESPN and Fox Soccer's coverage last year.

Michael Steele

NBC Sports Group bet big on the Barclays Premier League, and the first day of coverage gave them a reason to chear, as the league debuted to record American ratings.

The triple-header on NBC and NBC Sports Network (Stoke City-Liverpool, Aston Villa-Arsenal, Manchester United-Swansea City) averaged an 0.5 rating. While still small compared to a lot of other sports, that's up 67 percent from the average for the three opening Saturday games that ESPN and Fox Soccer broadcast in 2012, which drew an 0.3. In addition, fans streamed more than four million minutes of coverage on NBC Sports Live Extra, which showed every game being played that day.

On NBC, a somewhat lopsided (at least in the second half) match between Swansea City and Manchester United drew an 0.8 rating. That's not bad, considering it was the opening week of the season. In fact, it was the highest-rated opening week game for the Premier League ever on American television. While it is the first one to air on broadcast, don't forget that ESPN has aired opening weekend games in the past.

I'll have more on NBC's Premier League debut on Monday. For now, here are the best local market ratings for the Swansea-Manchester United match.

Top 10 markets for Swansea City-Manchester United

Market Rating
1. Washington, D.C. 2.2
2. Tulsa 1.9
3. Austin 1.8
t4. Seattle 1.4
t4. Buffalo 1.4
6. Los Angeles 1.2
t7. Philadelphia 1.0
t7. Cincinnati 1.0
t7. Orlando 1.0
10. Harford/New Haven 0.9

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