Tackle! How Euro Football Foils U.S. Movies

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Dutch star Wesley Sneijder lines up a shot in Nike's elaborate "My Time Is Now" commercial.

5 billion people will watch this month's Super Bowl-sized soccer games.

The London Olympics are still more than a month away, but broadcasters and advertisers in Europe are already in full fan frenzy for another sporting event: the 2012 European Football Championship, which kicks off in Poland and the Ukraine on June 8. The competition between Europe's top national soccer teams is the Euro equivalent of a month of Super Bowl Sundays. Television market shares of 70 percent to 80 percent are not uncommon for matches, and European soccer governing body UEFA expects a global audience of nearly 5 billion, making the tournament the third-largest sporting event in the world, behind the Summer Olympics and soccer's World Cup.

That's good news for European TV networks but a big pain for Hollywood movie studios, which are forced to schedule their summer tentpoles around the matches. The championships are one reason Universal's Battleship opened overseas far in advance of its U.S. bow and why Fox's Prometheus and Universal's Snow White and the Huntsman went out early in certain European markets.

The captive soccer audience means big money for UEFA -- which expects to clear about $1.7 billion from this year's tournament, including more than $1 billion in revenue from TV rights -- and broadcasters, which can guarantee major ratings for advertisers. "This represents a great opportunity for sponsors to enhance their brand recognition," notes Patrick Rishe, a sports business professor at Webster University in St. Louis. According to Forbes, Euro 2012 is the fourth most valuable "brand" in sports (calculated according to ad revenue per day of competition) at $110 million a day during the four-week tournament.

The advertising onslaught already has begun with tourney-themed spots blanketing the European airwaves. Expensive, extravagant or bizarre commercials are as much a part of the event as they are of the Super Bowl, and some of the world's biggest brands have set out their ad markers for Euro 2012. Among the spots getting the most traction are Nike's "My Time Is Now," which features many of the biggest names in European soccer, including Germany's Mesut Ozil, France's Franck Ribery and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo, in a massive battle royal on the soccer pitch (NBA star LeBron James even makes a cameo). Danish brewery Carlsberg is playing to English viewers with its "Fan Academy" spots, which feature British supporters in training for the upcoming TV marathon.


  1. Super Bowl $420 million (1 day)
  2. Summer Games $230 million (17 days)
  3. FIFA soccer World Cup $120 million (23 days)
  4. UEFA European Football Championship $110 million (19 days)
  5. World Series $106 million (4-7 days)

*based on revenue per day of competition

Source: Forbes