Just as Euro 2012 is lauded for being an excellent tournament and one of the best of its kind on the pitch, on screen the football is really doing the business for ESPN.
The leading sports broadcaster, still reeling from the TV rights red card from the English Premier League (EPL) for seasons 2013-2015, has enjoyed huge success with US coverage of UEFA’s European Football Championship, which has just entered its knock-out phase with Christiano Ronaldo steering Portugal to victory over the Czech Republic.
Already the broadcaster has registered double-digit audience increases on the main ESPN platform, as well as triple-digit viewership increases compared with the previous tournament in 2008 on ESPN Deportes, and significant increases in digital channel audiences.
Through the 24 matches in the group stage of the ESPN’s live English-language presentation is averaging 784,000 households and just over a million viewers, 79% and 82% increases respectively on the group stage matches in 2008. The top 10 metered markets through the group stage include: New York (1.6), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (1.6), Providence (1.3), Los Angeles (1.2), Washington, DC (1.2), Richmond, Va. (1.1), Atlanta (1.1), San Francisco (1.0), Jacksonville (1.0), and Austin, Texas (1.0).
The knock-out games promise even more with the weekend’s quarter finals delivering Germany v Greece, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in attendance; France versus world champions Spain, who have Iniesta, Xavi and David Silva in imperious form; and Italy versus a surprisingly invigorated England side led by bravura performances from Steven Gerrard.
The most watched match in the group stage was the Group C match between football heavyweights Spain and Italy on 10 June which was seen by an average audience of 2.113 million viewers. This audience was larger than any of the 31 telecasts in 2008, except the final on ABC watched by an average of 3.760 million viewers. Viewing was made more impressive by the fact that its midday ET kickoff was far from peak time scheduling.
ESPN’s 24-hour Spanish-language sports network has also delivered strong audiences, averaging 161,000 Hispanic households and 228,000 Hispanic viewers, up by an impressive 123% and 138% respectively, compared with 2008. From 8-19 June, through the group stage of Euro 2012, ESPNFC.com and ESPNsoccernet Gamecast globally averaged one million daily visitors, 4.2 million page views per day and 16.1 million minutes per day. When compared to ESPNsoccernet.com during the same time period for EURO 2008, the site is up 44%, 38% and 240% respectively. In total, ESPNFC.com, ESPNsoccernet.com and ESPNdeportes.com generated 52.8 million total page views during the group stage, up 38% compared with Euro 2008.