Beckham Bends ESPN’s Ratings Upward

He didn’t play much, but David Beckham’s debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy Saturday night drew record viewership for a Major League Soccer telecast on ESPN.

The match -- in which the famous footballer, who is nursing a bad ankle, played just 16 minutes against Chelsea FC July 21 -- netted a 1.0 household rating and 1.47 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

That was the most ever for an MLS game on ESPN or ESPN2, topping the league’s first match, D.C. United vs. the San Jose Clash, April 4, 1996, which notched a 1.0 rating and 1.09 million viewers.

Beckham’s appearance helped to make ESPN the most-viewed and highest-rated program on ad-supported cable among men 18-49 and 25-54 July 21, according to network officials.

Upcoming coverage of Beckham/Galaxy matches are slated for ESPN2 Aug. 9 and 23; Sept. 13 and 27; and Oct. 18.