Saturday's Detroit City FC match, its first to be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit, drew about 13,000 viewers combined between the traditional broadcast and live Internet streaming. That number is expected to rise by about 10 percent in the coming days, once FSD gets DVR numbers, the network said Tuesday.
Between the sellout crowd of 7,264 that watched DCFC play Germany-based FC St. Pauli at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, more than 20,000 watched the match.
"Let's put it in a little bit of perspective," Greg Hammaren, senior vice president and general manager for FSD, told The News. "This is an amateur team, at the college level, and a niche sport — so it did exactly what we expected it to do.
"That's about on par with our high-school football (state-championship game) streaming."
While the number may seem low on the surface, Hammaren pointed out that most of DCFC's passionate fan base was in attendance at the match, a 6-2 loss for DCFC.
Hammaren said he came away impressed with the quality of the broadcast, which was called by Neal Ruhl and John Kreger, the voices of Detroit City FC.
"They showed the energy in and around Keyworth Stadium very well," he said.
FSD and DCFC have been partners for the last couple of years, with FSD's website hosting live-streaming of the club's home matches. The audience for those matches has grown steadily, and the global reach is beyond impressive.
Fans from more than 100 countries have tuned in over the last couple years, said Hammaren, who added that outside of the United States, DCFC broadcasts are most popular in the United Kingdom, then Brazil, and then Canada.
It's too early to say if DCFC will do more matches on linear FSD in the future.
"It's possible," said Hammaren, adding it's all about timing and choosing the right opponent — preferably, an international one. "That's really up to DCFC. Our schedule is pretty full all the time."
Alex Wright, co-owner of DCFC, told The News last year that going to FSD would be an ideal scenario, but a significant financial investment — and DCFC also would relinquish much of the control over its broadcast, which is a concern.
Soccer also is biggest among millennials, who are cutting the cable cord at rapid rates, which could convince DCFC that it's best to keep streaming the matches for the foreseeable future at a significant cost savings.
DCFC's streaming of its National Premier Soccer League national semifinal match last year drew more than 30,000 viewers, more than triple the typical viewing audience.