UEFA has seen global live viewing figures for the group stages of the Champions League drop, with numbers lower than both of the last two seasons.
The bad news for the governing body comes amid a backdrop of potential turbulence in the future, with the European Super League proposals still hanging around, while broadcasters are facing difficulties amid the ongoing pandemic.
While figures for UEFA had improved for the group stages from the 2018/19 season to the 2019/20 campaign, the latest figures have seen this year’s competition drop below both of the last two years’ results – significantly so on last year’s results.
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One of the main catalysts for the fall in numbers has been a lack of people watching matches in public areas, such as pubs and bars across the world, with viewing figures understandably taking a big hit.
However, the number of viewers on television at home have also dropped, meaning broadcasters globally will understandably be cautious when it comes to renewing their deals next time around.
With a shrinking market of viewers watching the group stages, advertisers could see the Champions League broadcasts as a less valuable proposition, and with the pandemic causing uncertainty in so many areas of the economy, sports television subscriptions become one thing that families may decide they can do without.
UEFA sign deals in three-year blocks for their football coverage, so while broadcasters are now locked in from 2021-2024, UEFA should be relatively able to cope with a drop in viewers for now.
However, there are examples – such as DAZN in Japan and Turner in the USA – of companies prematurely ending deals in the last year, and so the European governing body must tread a fine line.
Were revenues to take a hit in the next set of negotiations for rights…