Yesterday we talked about the upcoming Fox broadcast of the Manchester United/Barcelona Champions League final. Last year, Fox felt so strongly about the ratings potential for the game that the network elected to show the match in lieu of its typical Saturday afternoon baseball. The Yankees/Mets game was bumped back a couple of hours and the Final was shown in its entirety. Some sources indicated that Fox was hoping to reach 2 million households with the game. The final in 2009 was seen by just over 1 million households on ESPN. The game had been scheduled to be broadcast on FX, but the network (which owns the American rights to three years of UEFA broadcasts), moved the game to to its main network.
However, the ultimate ratings last year were not nearly as good as expected, with the match scoring a 1.1. The 2011 match-up brings the teams with the best cache to network television. Barcelona and Manchester United have enormous followings in the United States and the ratings promise to be much better than last year.
The Sports Business Journal ran an excellent piece in its most recent edition about the success of Champions League broadcasts the family of Fox networks. According to the article, ad inventory for the final sold out in January, while the entire portfolio of Champions League telecasts sold out ad inventory for the entire season. According to the same article, the combined audience for the semifinals was 800,000.
We’ll discuss the broadcast in further detail after the match, but the continued broadcasts of these games on American television represents a significant leap forward for soccer in the United States.