Real Madrid’s UCL comeback heroics attract record US audience

Real Madrid’s stunning comeback victory against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final last week has broken viewing records in the US.

As per Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp, Paramount-owned broadcast CBS recorded an average of 1.11 million viewers for the match which took place far from US primetime at mid-afternoon on a weekday.

The reporter noted that the figure makes it the most-watched  UEFA Champions League semifinal ever on English-language TV in the US, with viewers up 118% from the same fixture in 2019.

It is unclear whether this figure is a combination of streaming and linear, or just the traditional TV viewer numbers.

Paramount (then ViacomCBS) secured rights to UEFA club competitions in mid-2020, in a deal which runs through to 2024. It streams all UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on SVOD Paramount+, with select marquee games broadcast live on CBS Television Network and CBS Sports Network. The SBJ previously reported that the deal is worth around US$150 million.

Sports rights are becoming an increasingly important part of many streaming operators’ strategies as the market gets more crowded. 

Earlier this year HBO Max agreed an eight year deal to broadcast US national team soccer from 2023, while Apple more recently started streaming MLB games. Execs at NBCUniversal meanwhile have shut down its dedicated sports channel in favour of streamer Peacock, with the English Premier League forming a core part of its sports offer.

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