All Articles Finance The big business of Champions League soccer

The big business of Champions League soccer

5 min read


This year’s Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Champions League final is set to be an all-German affair between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund on May 25 at London’s Wembley Stadium. Next to the World Cup, the UEFA Champions League final is one of soccer’s most-anticipated events. Recognizing the growing global appeal of the final, UEFA made the decision a few years ago to switch the game from a weeknight to a Saturday so it could attract more viewers from around the world.

Big Business for UEFA

These championships are big business in Europe. The annual estimated gross commercial revenue expected from the 2012/2013 UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup is €1.34 billion or about $1.73 billion, according to UEFA. This compares to annual revenues of $9.5 billion for the NFL, $7.5 billion for Major League Baseball, $4 billion for the NBA, $3.4 billion for the NHL, and $300 million for Major League Soccer. UEFA isn’t the world’s biggest sports entity in terms of revenue, but it makes significant revenue and has fans worldwide.

In 2011, 178.7 million television viewers tuned in to watch Barcelona beat Manchester United in the final. It was the most-watched UEFA Champions League game ever and the most-watched worldwide annual sporting event that year. In the U.S., 2.6 million viewers tuned in, while the 2012 final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich drew a U.S. audience of 2 million. Both matches were shown live in the U.S. on FOX Sports.

The road to the 2013 UEFA championships started in July 2012. Teams compete in a qualifying round, play-offs, Group Stage, Knockout Phase, and the Final. Teams from Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, Russia, the Ukraine, and some Asian countries compete in the UEFA championships. Holding nine titles, Real Madrid C.F. is the most successful UEFA team. The current champion is Chelsea F.C. from London, though they were defeated in the Group Stage in this year’s competition.

The UEFA league is made up of 53 football member associations throughout Europe and one provisional team. Each UEFA member has its own league system.

Explore the map below to learn more about the top 16 teams in this year’s Champions League.

Click on image to enlarge map.

Watch Soccer on TV

Even though soccer is not the most popular sport in the U.S., it is gaining fans due to participation in amateur youth and adult leagues and the influx of immigrants over the past decade. Some Americans love the sport and are most likely to watch the UEFA championships on television. Where are the Americans who will cheer on their favorites?

People in the U.S. who watch soccer on TV most frequently live along the Eastern seaboard, near Chicago and Minneapolis, and areas in the West, including California. ZIP codes with residents most likely to watch soccer on TV include: 21402 (Annapolis, Maryland), 65473 (Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri), 92145 (Fort Irwin, California), and 98433 (Tacoma, Washington). Residents in these ZIP codes are at least twice as likely as the average American to watch soccer on TV.

Click on image to enlarge map.

What type of American most likely watches soccer on television? Esri, a geographic information systems company, developed a Tapestry Segmentation system that classifies U.S. residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

Residents of Dorms to Diplomas, Las Casas, and Military Proximity neighborhoods are the most likely to watch soccer on television. Dorms to Diplomas residents are focused on their education. They have a median age of 21.9 years and most live in dorms. Las Casas residents are primarily young, Hispanic families with a household size of 4.14 people. Approximately half were born outside the United States. Residents of Military Proximity neighborhoods depend upon the military for their livelihood. Most are in the Armed Forces; others work in civilian jobs on base. Two-thirds of the households are married-couple families with children.

Residents of Prairie Living, Rural Bypasses, and Southern Satellites neighborhoods are the least likely to watch soccer on television. Prairie Living residents live on family-owned farms in the Midwest. Two-thirds of the households are married couple families; the median age is 43.3 years. Rural Bypasses neighborhoods are found in small Southern towns along back country roads near open space, undeveloped land, and farms. Unemployment is high in these neighborhoods; however, those who work have jobs in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction industries at a higher-than-average rate. Households in Southern Satellites neighborhoods are located in the rural South. Residents are primarily married-couple families who work in the manufacturing and service industries.

Why This Matters

Soccer has always been big business in Europe and Latin America. It has not been nearly as popular in the U.S. as other sports; however, some Americans love the sport. Soccer leagues – both domestic and international – can target U.S. soccer fans by understanding who they are and where they live in the U.S.

Many Americans who emigrated from Latin American and European countries or are first generation Americans from those areas are very connected to the game and want to watch it. They are often super fans who will do anything to view critical games played by their favorite teams as well as the league championships. Many fans are Hispanic, which are an increasing percentage of the total U.S. population. With the right marketing, messaging, and promotions, UEFA soccer leagues can increase their presence in the U.S.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist, and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at