PORTLAND, Ore. (
TheStreet) -- Major League Soccer is hosting an All-Star Game filled with World Cup talent in one of the most raucous venues in North America with help from sponsors who rarely see big-league action.
Of course nobody's going to watch it.
Wednesday's MLS All-Star Game in Portland should be riding a wave of World Cup momentum that saw an average of 18 million people watch U.S. national team matches and a record 29 million watch the final between Germany and Argentina. MLS is sending seven members of that U.S. men's team to the All-Star Game, including U.S. captain and Seattle Sounders standout Clint Dempsey, while the MLS All-Stars' opponent -- Germany's Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich -- includes seven members of German's World Cup championship squad and young U.S. men's team forward Julian Green.
The World Cup drew enough viewers this year to give U.S. audiences at least some knowledge of U.S.-based MLS stars including Michael Bradley (of FC Toronto), Kyle Beckerman (the one with the dreadlocks, Real Salt Lake) and Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City). They may even recognize the names of German stars on Bayern Munich including Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller, Phillip Lahm, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Jerome Boateng -- if not Netherlands striker Arjen Robben.5 Ways to Get Your Soccer Fix After the World Cup What they certainly won't do is watch. While ESPN and Univision pulled in between 3 million and 4 million viewers per match apiece for much of the World Cup, regular-season MLS matches averaged 220,000 viewers on ESPN and about half that on NBC Sports Network. By comparison, the WNBA drew about 230,000 viewers for each of its games. Bringing in the international superstars doesn't tend to help all that much, especially with ESPN burying the MLS All-Star game on ESPN2. The league drew just 319,000 to that network when its stars played Italian Serie A club AS Roma during All-Star game last year. Even that was down 530,000 from their All-Star matchup against Chelsea in 2012. By comparison, the NBA All-Star Game was shown on Time Warner's TNT this year and still brought in 7.5 million. Fox drew 11 million viewers last month for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. That event has lost so much of its luster that half of its audience has disappeared in the past 20 years. Those events still lag behind the National Football League's Pro Bowl, which drew roughly 11.7 million viewers to NBC this year despite playing an off-brand version of the sport that eliminated kickoffs, sped up the play clock and added two-minute warnings to the first and third quarters.
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