Manchester City has finally won the most coveted prize in European soccer: the UEFA Champions League Final 2023! After seven years and massive investments, Pep Guardiola’s team made it into the elite ranks of soccer clubs with a single goal by Spanish defensive midfielder Rodri in a tight match against Inter Milan.
While Manchester City won on the field, the Beautiful Game maintained its dominance in emotional engagement among TV viewers, with the live broadcast of the UCL Final 2023 scoring an Emotional Impact Score (EIS) above the Mediaprobe norm for live sports broadcasts in both markets we measured. The game’s broadcast scored 11% higher than the norm in the United States and 15% higher than the norm in the United Kingdom.
Despite performing above average, this year’s final had a lower EIS than the 2022 edition in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Why? This could be explained by the fact that, despite the same scoreline, the game had more Peak EIS moments last year than we saw last Saturday.
Even though it performed worse than the 2022 final, the UCL Final 2023 broadcast outperformed all other ball sports finals games this year on US television. The Champions League final match scored higher on EIS than the NBA Finals Game 5, Stanley Cup Game 6, the NCAA’s Men’s Final, and the Super Bowl.
A Win for Advertisers as well
The UEFA Champions League Final 2023 in Istanbul provided a win for the brands that bet on the event, either as sponsors or regular advertisers, with a global audience of around 450 million viewers and a record peak of 2.6 million viewers in the US.
However, more than eyeballs, soccer is able to deliver a very high-quality context for advertising. Premium content generates high emotional engagement in viewers, which in turn leads to high emotional engagement with the surrounding advertising. This carryover effect, in which the emotional engagement of the content is transferred to the commercials, emphasizes the importance for brands and advertisers to plan their media budgets around high-quality content, meaning content with high EIS scores among target audiences.
Official Sponsors of the UEFA Champions League reaped the benefits of their ongoing partnership with the competition, scoring significantly higher on EIS than Regular Advertisers during the event. Official Sponsors outperformed Regular Advertisers by 5% on the US broadcast and 14% on the UK broadcast.
As a result, Official Sponsors were 1.75x more likely to be remembered in a post-event survey in the United States and 4.84x more likely in the United Kingdom. This highlights a pattern that we have seen repeatedly in the thousands of hours of content we have measured: high emotional content leads to high emotional advertising, resulting in higher brand recall that is tied up with an increase in brand awareness and purchasing intent.
Once again, the UEFA Champions League Final 2023 delivered highly emotionally engaging content, outperforming other sports broadcasts, and showing that soccer continues to increase its value, especially in the US. Our data shows that brands that associate with the sport are in a good position to benefit from the premium emotional engagement that soccer broadcasts deliver.
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup starting next month, and on the road to the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, which will be triple-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, broadcasters and brands continue to reap the benefits of betting on a sport that keeps growing in popularity and ROI value.