Saturday’s 1-0 Real Madrid win over Liverpool in the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final hit a new record viewership in the US.
Per a release, the match drew 2.761 million viewers on CBS. Last year’s Final between Chelsea and Manchester City averaged 2.10 million viewers on CBS, and picked up another 1.55 million on Univision. Spanish-language data was not immediately available for this year’s Final, but given the presence of Real Madrid, you’d expect it to at least match (and likely to exceed) last year’s number.
Two years ago, 2.05 million watched Bayern Munich’s 1-0 win over PSG on Univision, while the English-language broadcast was relegated to CBS Sports Network (which is not Nielsen-rated).
There are several reasons for this year’s spike. In Real Madrid and Liverpool, the Final featured a pair of Europe’s most popular and successful clubs. Out of home viewing also probably played a role, as Nielsen’s metric for measuring those audiences has become more refined recently compared to when it was first rolled out. I think soccer also gets an added benefit from out of home viewing, given the popularity of watching live matches in pubs with local supporters clubs.
And while it’s not included in the reported figure, CBS also announced a streaming record for the Final on Paramount+. The company said the match was its most-streamed soccer match ever, posting triple digit growth in various metrics (including average minute audience, streaming minutes, and total households).
Overall, the Champions League has been a strong investment so far for CBS, drawing somewhat impressive audiences for the handful of matches on broadcast and driving subscribers to Paramount+. As a whole, the coverage has been comprehensive and impressive (a stark contrast from some of UEFA’s other American TV partners), and we’re hoping they’ll be able to hang on to the rights when UEFA opens up bidding the next time around.
UPDATE: The Spanish language viewership on Univision and TUDN checked in at 2.6 million, per World Soccer Talk. This takes the overall viewership to 5.36 million, a record for any Final in the US.