Whether you treat news of a European super league with scepticism or not, the UEFA Champions League continues to capture the imaginations of football fans across Europe.
As we revealed in our recent white paper, The Many Faces of European Sports Fans, the property is Europe’s most popular. The Champions League features in seven of the eight top-five market rankings for most-watched leagues or events (see tables below). The League’s closest competitor, the Tour de France, featured in just three of the eight top-fives.
The Champions League began again this month so we thought we’d find out which of these countries are getting most excited about it. You can see our findings in the chart below.
The biggest Buzz (a net score calculated by asking people whether they have heard anything positive or negative about the league in the last two weeks) for the league currently exists in Spain which, as you’d expect, is also the country where the property is most popular according to our report figures. Next up it’s Norway – despite the fact that its representative, Molde, failed to make it through to the group stages – closely followed by Italy and France.
There’s then a slightly bigger drop-off in Buzz scores to Germany where, along with Sweden and Denmark, the League scores roughly the same. And at the bottom of the pile is the UK, where the Champions League scores only around a fifth of the Buzz that it picks up in Spain.
We also wondered if there was any relationship between these scores (and their ranking) with Buzz around each country’s domestic top division men’s football. For example, in a country where the UCL scored poorly, did the domestic league also score particularly poorly or particularly well? You can see the results in the chart above.
There does seem to be a relationship between UCL scores and the score of each country’s domestic top division – that is, countries where the UCL gets a high Buzz score also tend to score their domestic league highly. But there are exceptions to this – Buzz around Norway and France’s domestic leagues are more modest.
In fact, in France the Champions League and Ligue 1 score roughly the same – the only country where that comes close to being the case. In every other country, the domestic league easily outscores the Champions League for Buzz – but that is to be expected given that most domestic leagues have been up and running for some time, while the UCL has only just begun.
As intrigue builds during the group stages, we’d expect these gaps in Buzz scores to narrow – and perhaps in one or two cases even overtake domestic leagues. For a property in such good health, it’s unusual that its future should be so uncertain.