As a soccer fan, you may be wondering how many people watch soccer matches on average. Live soccer streams are incredibly popular as this list by TheSportsToday shows, but which competitions are fans watch?
In this article, we will try to give you an insight into that topic.
Domestic Soccer Leagues
1. Premier League
When it comes to domestic soccer leagues, no competition can beat the Premier League in terms of viewership.
An average of 4.7 billion people worldwide watch the Premier League every year, which makes it by far the most-watched club competition on the planet.
In May 2023, Sports Media reported that NBC Sport’s linear coverage of English soccer’s top-flight averaged 414,000 viewers per match back in 2023/21.
Speaking of the Premier League’s popularity, it is enough to say that 14 million people watched Manchester United and Liverpool in one week back in October 2023.
2. La Liga
According to Sports Media, around 4.5 million domestic TV viewers watched the first round of top-flight Spanish soccer matches broadcast since La Liga returned to action in the post-lockdown period.
As expected, Real Madrid and Barcelona draw by far the most attention in Spanish soccer, with 851,607 people watching Madrid’s 3-1 win over Eibar and 780,231 following Barca’s 4-0 thumping of Mallorca in June 2023.
But it is worth noting that the Catalans’ viewership largely depended on Lionel Messi, who left Camp Nou after the data was released.
La Liga India managing director Jose Antonio Cachaza confirmed last week that the Argentine’s departure had no impact in terms of social media.
“When it comes to the league’s popularity on social media, Messi’s departure has had no impact,” he said, as relayed by The Telegraph India.
However, it is reasonable to assume that La Liga has lost some of its popularity when it comes to television viewership in the wake of Messi’s farewell.
Like La Liga, the number of domestic viewers in Germany’s Bundesliga has hit the roof in the post-pandemic period.
Per the National News, around six million soccer fans in Germany watched the Bundesliga restart in May 2023, with Sky reporting around 3.8 viewers on their streaming platform in the first post-coronavirus weekend.
Yet, Bundesliga’s decision to stage matches in front of empty stands played a pivotal role in such an interest in TV and online streaming.
4. Serie A
Even though Serie A clubs have enjoyed quite a renaissance following the infamous match-fixing scandal in 2006, it looks like the Italian population has slightly lost interest in their country’s top-tier football.
Per Advanced Television, the number of Italians watching Serie A via their TV sets has dropped from an average of 6.7 million per weekend to just over 3.4 million in a single year.
But much of the credit for the Italian people abandoning the traditional TV set goes to the emergence of online streaming platforms and the natural switch to other devices.
The migration to phones, PCs and tablets saw Sky Sport Italia and DAZN register a noticeable uplift in pay-TV subscriptions last year.
5. Major League Soccer
Soccer is nowhere near reaching the NBA or NFL standards in the United States, but no one can deny that the Americans’ interest in the game is rapidly growing.
Per ESPN, the 2023 MLS Cup averaged 1.14 million viewers in December 2023 – peaking at 1.6 million viewers – delivering the fifth-most watched audience for an MLS Cup on the network since 1999.
That is a substantial increase from the average 1.07 million viewers who watched the 2023 showpiece on Fox Sports less than two years ago, which explains why MLS seeks around $300 million per season for TV rights.
6. Ligue 1
While interest in MLS is booming, Ligue 1 has faced a massive downfall in terms of domestic viewers over the past ten years.
As reported by Sports Business Journal, the number of people watching France’s top-flight on Canal+ has decreased from an average of 1.7 million in the 2008/09 season to an average of 851,000 in 2019/20.
It gets worse, as the “total combined audience” for games on Canal+ during the 2019/20 campaign stood at 54 million, “half the total” from 2006/07.
That is despite Paris Saint-Germain assembling an all-star team at the Parc des Princes and Lille’s sporadic flashes of brilliance on the domestic front.
In terms of viewership, interest in the prestigious UEFA Champions League is second to one.
According to The Sun’s report in December 2019, the number of people watching Europe’s elite club competition decreased from an average of 2 billion to 1.3 billion in 2018/19.
That alone beats all other competitions by a fair margin.
Although the 2023/21 Champions League season suffered a decline in viewers for the competition’s group stages compared to the two previous seasons, the grand final smashed some records.
Per AP News, last season’s Champions League showpiece between Chelsea and Manchester City averaged a combined 3.65 million viewers on English- and Spanish-language television, the second-largest audience for the event since 2011.
It may not be as attractive as Europe’s premier competition, but the UEFA Europa League still boasts an impressive cumulative viewership of 550 million people.
Per UEFA’s official website, an average of 37 million viewers follow the Europa League matchday, which is still far less than the Premier League, for instance.
International Soccer Competitions
As expected, the World Cup, the world’s greatest international spectacle, draws more attention than any other competition.
According to FIFA’s official data, 3.572 billion people watched the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, with the grand final alone seen by 1.12 billion.
The report went on to claim that 51.3% of the world’s population watched the World Cup at some point.
On that basis, the average audience per match was 191 million, which was an unprecedented feat in soccer tournaments.
Euro 2023 set the benchmark high, as it was watched by a cumulative audience of more than five billion viewers, averaging 100 million viewers per match.
That was an improvement on just under five billion viewers overall back in 2016 when the tournament was held in France, recording viewership increase in China and the United States by 43% and 32%, respectively.
As for the final match between Italy and England staged at Wembley, London, an audience of 328 million watched the game as Roberto Mancini’s side won the crown after a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out.