ISTANBUL (AP) — A global audience of 450 million viewers is expected to watch at least some part of the Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan on Saturday, UEFA has estimated.
The live, minute-by-minute average audience — a longtime gold standard in the broadcasting industry — of about 150 million is expected for the game in Istanbul that is being shown in more than 200 territories worldwide, UEFA said. It includes verified and estimated in-home TV viewers, fans streaming the game plus those watching in bars, restaurants and fan parks.
That 150 million figure is lower than the Champions League record 184 million average audience set by the 2014 final when Real Madrid beat city rival Atlético Madrid 4-1 after extra time.
The lower audience rating in 2023 reflects changing viewing habits and the absence of Real Madrid, which has a long-established global fan base.
Madrid’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool one year ago had an average audience of 166 million, according to UEFA research, and the same two teams’ final in 2018 had a 161 million average.
When Liverpool played another English club, Tottenham, one year later in 2019 the average audience was just 91 million, according to UEFA.
Another all-English final delivered the lowest average audience in the past 15 years — just 84 million for Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Man City two years ago.
Lower ratings for modern Champions League finals also reflects UEFA selling rights in fewer markets to free-to-air broadcasters. Instead, UEFA and clubs have prioritized higher-revenue deals with pay-TV networks.
Still, the low figure for the 2021 final was almost doubled the next year when Real Madrid was again involved.
Broadcast deals have driven the commercial revenue of UEFA’s three club competitions to about 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion) this season.
The 32 Champions League clubs that qualified for the group stage will share more than 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion) in UEFA prize money this season.
Man City is likely to be Europe’s top earner with at least 120 million euros ($129 million). Real Madrid topped the list last season with 133.7 million euros ($144 million) in prize money from UEFA.