The October 28th Clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid averaged more than half a million viewers in the United States on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Español.
Despite el Clásico not featuring Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the game for the first time in almost a decade, the match at the Nou Camp averaged 363,359 viewers on beIN SPORTS en Español as well as 181,000 viewers on the English-language beIN SPORTS for a combined average of 544,359 viewers.
That viewership average was a sharp 35% decline from the December 2017 el Clásico that averaged 845,000 viewers.
For LaLiga and beIN SPORTS, the league and exclusive broadcaster in the United States have been dealt a series of blows including DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and Comcast Xfinity dropping the channel. At the same time that distribution across TV has become a huge issue, the competition has seen significant increases. Turner is delivering a record audience on TNT including +52% in Champions League viewership versus last year’s English-language Group Stage coverage, while Premier League viewership on NBC’s broadcast network is continuing to outperform last season’s numbers, up nearly 8% from the first eight broadcasts of last season.
While there’s no doubt that the quality of LaLiga is exceptional at the same time that the league is enjoying one of the most open title races in years, there’s been no progress to report from beIN SPORTS about trying to secure new deals with DIRECTV and Comcast Xfinity.
Despite TV numbers declining sharply for el Clásico, it’s expected that the digital viewership for the game may have seen a large increase especially since beIN SPORTS has been actively encouraging soccer fans to switch to Sling TV and fuboTV. Those numbers will be available in one to two weeks.
Where does LaLiga go from here? With beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS Español having the exclusive television rights for matches through the end of the 2019/20 season, there doesn’t appear to be a likelihood of much change on the horizon anytime soon.
The next Clásico is scheduled for March, 2019. Hopefully there’ll be progress made by then to get beIN SPORTS back on more TV providers nationwide.