European Soccer's Champions League Final Draws World Cup Ratings Figures
COLOGNE, Germany – Saturday's Champions League final match, in which Bayern Munich beat local Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in a 89th minute barn burner, set record ratings on German TV, with 21.61 million viewers, a 62 percent share, tuning in live on public broadcaster ZDF.
Viewership for the all-German final dwarfed the previous record, set last year, when 17 million Germans watched Bayern go down in a penalty shoot out at home in Munich to eventual Champions Chelsea.
The game marked an all-time high for a club soccer match in the territory and pushed the Champions League game into a ratings realm previously only seen in national tournaments such as the European or World Cup. It even beat out last year's European Cup final match between Spain and Italy, which drew 20.31 million viewers in Germany.
European soccer governing body UEFA is still compiling global ratings figures for the final but across Europe, the Bayern-Dortmund match was a hit. 2.8 million viewers, or more than a quarter of the Dutch audience, tuned in to watch Holland star Arjen Robben score the winner for Bayern. Spain, which saw its two top teams, Barcelona and Madrid, knocked out by the German squads in the semi-finals, still tuned in, with an average 4.2 million viewers (a 30.8 percent share) watching the match on Television Espanola. In Italy, 5.7 million tuned in on Mediaset's Canale 5, a 22.3 percent share, with an additional 2.1 million watching on pay-TV network Sky-Italia. In total 7.9 million Italians watched the match, a 27.6 percent share of the viewing audience. That compares to the 6.7 million (39.4 percent) that tuned in to public broadcaster RAI to watch home town soccer in the form of the Copa d'Italia match Sunday night between AS Roma and Lazio.
In France and the U.K., the Champions League final was the runner-up ratings wise, with local entertainment shows topping the charts but France's TF1 still drew 4.55 million viewers (a 19.5 percent share) and 3.5 million Brits (17.7 percent) watched the match on ITV. The soccer may have contributed to a season ratings low for the number one show, The Voice UK, which fell below the 30 percent audience mark, drawing 5.89 million viewers Saturday night.
Globally, the Champions League final was forecast to draw close to 200 million viewers, making it the most-watched live annual sporting event, bigger even than the Super Bowl.
Pamela Rolfe in Madrid and Eric J. Lyman in Rome contributed to this report.