Why UEFA Champions League is bigger than the Super Bowl: Europe’s biggest match dominates NFL title game for global viewers

The UEFA Champions League final and the Super Bowl are two of the most-watched sporting events around the globe.

Both the NFL and FIFA have built their versions of football into global powerhouses, and fans have responded in droves, with viewership numbers increasing rapidly across the world.

Still, one towers over the other, due to the availability of a larger global audience.

The Sporting News brings you a full breakdown of how the Champions League and Super Bowl compare in terms of raw viewers for the annual big games.

How many people watch the Champions League final?

While reports vary wildly on how many people watch the Champions League final in recent years, UEFA announced in 2014 that the final in Lisbon, Portugal between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid garnered 380 million viewers worldwide.

When contacted by The Sporting News in the lead-up to the 2022 Champions League final, UEFA confirmed that the 2021 event had an estimated global reach of 275 million. That match between Chelsea and Manchester City included a share of 8.7 million from the U.K. and a further 3.6 million from the United States (English and Spanish), according to various media releases. Some reports across the internet 

According to a list published by GOAL, the UEFA Champions League final is the most watched standalone annual sporting event in the world. It still ranks as the No. 8 most-watched sporting event even when taking into account weeks-long sporting events like the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, and the Tour de France. 

UEFA expects it to continue growing, with fans able to access the event using a variety of methods and platforms.

“UEFA is coming from a position of strength, with the UEFA Champions League being the world’s most recognized club competition and one of the few top seasonal sporting events, which is able to attract over one billion fans globally,” UEFA told The Sporting News.

 “Different segments of fans are following football through different channels and platforms – depending on their age and geographical location. The new media landscape will be able to cater for new demands stemming from different demographic groups.

 “Over the last few years, the media market has shown that media distribution in entertainment and especially top sporting events is moving towards pay platforms and digital demand solutions, which are able to provide greater in-depth broadcasting coverage and analysis. 

“UEFA’s competitions will continue to be one of sport’s elite brands and reach over one billion fans on an annual basis. While it is expected there will be a drop in traditional television viewing figures, this will be partly offset by new options to promote the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on digital and social media. This will see an increase in reach, especially towards young followers of the game and those living outside of Europe.”

Is the Champions League final bigger than the Super Bowl?

The Champions League final is bigger than the Super Bowl in terms of viewers around the globe, by several million. Finding concrete numbers for both events is difficult, but any way you slice it, the Champions League final is still the winner.

Broadcast company NBC announced that the 2022 Super Bowl in January averaged 112.3 million viewers, including online streams, according to a press release days after the game. The NFL then published a release weeks later claiming around 208 million total people tuned in to the Super Bowl at some point, but that number is difficult to verify based on limitations to the survey method Nielsen used to estimate the total.

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