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2008 Champions League Final surpasses 1 million viewers

espn-logo.gifIt may not be anywhere near the 27% of an entire nation that ITV and Sky got in the UK, but for ESPN, their numbers for the American broadcast of the UFEA Champions League Final on Wednesday has given the network its own reason to celebrate.

According to overnight Nielsen ratings, ESPN2 netted a .8 rating for their broadcast of the Chelsea v Manchester United final, averaging 798,000 homes and 1,097,000 viewers throughout. This is the single highest rating for a UEFA match in ESPN’s history, and marks the first time in 218 UEFA broadcasts on the network that average viewership topped the 1 million mark. The previous record was set in the 2006 final between Barcelona and Arsenal, which got a .7 rating from 613,000 homes and 770,000 viewers.

The numbers are even better if you include the Spanish-language broadcast seen at the same time on ESPN Deportes. According to Nielsen’s Hispanic rating, the Spanish version was seen by 213,000 viewers over 153,000 homes. That would bring the grand total of viewers between both broadcasts to over 950,000 homes and 1,310,000 viewers.

For ESPN, these numbers represent a breakthrough at the best moment possible, with the network’s Euro 2008 broadcast just two weeks away. It also represents good timing for UEFA, as bidding for the next Champions League broadcast contract in the United States is expected to happen in the latter half of this year.

One last note: the game is being rebroadcast as one of ESPN’s instant classics. It will be on ESPN Classic tonight (Saturday, May 24th) at 8 P.M. Eastern time.

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  1. CFTV

    June 9, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    If ESPN is going to get into the Premiership Broadcasting Game I don’t see them really pushing that hard for marquee match ups on Monday afternoons. Lets say ESPN is going to get 6 of the 10 packages from the Premiership with them bidding and winning the 7:30am game Saturday, one or two of the 10am games Saturday, the noon game on Saturday, the 11am game on Sunday, and the Monday at 2:30pm game it would behoove them to keep the schedule the way it is keeping the marquee games on the weekend. The league is always going to have a marquee game at 7:30am on Saturday for the Asian market and the traditional big game at 11am on Sunday. That leaves 2 of the big four to play and 4 game slots for ESPN to fill. I just don’t see them wanting to farm big games involving big teams out to Monday afternoon when less eyeballs will have a chance to watch the game because of work. Maybe if they worked out a deal where some extra local derby games are played on Monday Night it would give that timeslot some extra ooomph. It has seemed to me since the last contract was signed a few years ago we are seeing less of the Big 4 on Monday’s because they have ramped up the 7:30am game because of all of the people in Asia that watch in Primetime.

  2. tampasoccer

    June 9, 2008 at 10:54 am

    True: the soccer bar in South Tampa was standing room only. The place was rocking, there were more people for the game than during their friday night happy hour, which says a lot.

  3. eplnfl

    May 24, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    In Chicago the major soccer pubs were SRO at least an hour before the game. Also, ESPN put the online which enabled me and other office bound people to follow the game.

    It’s only a question of time before we see ESPN with the Monday night EPL game. ESPN will pay extra to the owners to insure a quality game. So expect a lot of the big four on Mondays. Then what to hear what ESPN will offer for a EPL playoff game!

  4. Shakira Graham

    May 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Impressive showing but I don’t think that it shows the true numbers of people who watched it. In the pub I went to there were at least 150 people watching it.

  5. tyduffy

    May 24, 2008 at 8:55 am

    It is still an impressive showing. Sports do usually get shafted by Nielsen because so many people go to bars to watch it, so the actual viewership may have been much higher.

  6. anonunited

    May 24, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Mine was a nielsen house last week, so we got to contribute to the mail-in numbers. The pub reference would similar to 5 or 6 people watching in a home. I imagine that pubs/restaurants can be included in the nielsen tally’s as they only take a small sample. I wonder how a prime-time live showing, or a mid-day weekend would have been viewed. Getting the game in HD is a huge upgrade over standard.

  7. bodeyzafa

    May 24, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Rubbish! While I am happy to see the “numbers” point to a large veiwership of the CL Final, Nielsen is a JOKE. I know that the major networks use these numbers to determine future content. What about the 400 people in the pub where I watched the match. Or the 250 folks at the pub in south Tampa. Many pubs said it was standing room only as the surprising large crowds packed the halls to watch the final. Nielsen’s numbers do not include placese like restaurants or pubs.

    Either way, great game and and even better outcome.

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