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MLS teams draw huge domestic TV audience for Leagues Cup

Games in US-Mexico competition had more television viewers than the Premier League and Champions League in 2023.

How many people watch Leagues Cup?
Vasha HuntUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The 2023 edition of the Leagues Cup, the third in the competition’s brief history, was a truly historic event. For the first time every single MLS and Liga MX team was involved and the field grew from eight to 47 teams, a month-long competition pitting the two national leagues against one another.

It will also go down as the competition in which Lionel Messi made his Inter Miami debut, leading his new team on an incredible run to their first piece of silverware. The revamped tournament caught the nation’s attention and the linear television viewing figures were truly extraordinary.

Last year’s Leagues Cup drew a greater average US television audience than any other soccer competition, including the Premier League and Champions League. The figures are distorted somewhat by the various streaming options that are also available. But the Leagues Cup was also carried extensively on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, so that too suffered from a fragmentated audience.

When does the 2024 Leagues Cup start?

After such a successful inaugural season in its new format there is a real sense of anticipation ahead of the 2024 edition of the Leagues Cup. With 47 teams entering the competition the first round will consist of 15 groups of three teams, with two seeded teams advancing to the first knock-out round. Inter Miami may be the reigning champions but they did not receive a bye. Instead, Columbus Crew and Club América will skip the first round as the top-ranked teams from MLS and Liga MX, respectively.

This year’s Leagues Cup will begin on Friday 26 July, with Atlanta United - DC United and Orlando City - CF Montreal getting the ball rolling. Holders Inter Miami will begin their 2024 campaign the following day, taking on Puebla at Chase Stadium.

Once again, all fixtures will be played in the United States and Canada but the top four Liga MX seeds will be given home team privileges in certain rounds. Those teams - Club América, CF Monterrey, Chivas Guadalajara, Tigres UANL - will be allocated US ‘hubs’ to reduce the travel burden.