Two clubs from one city were the talk of the world on Saturday night as a dramatic UEFA Champions League final enthralled hundreds of millions of fans on television and social networks.
The world's most-watched annual sporting event was aired in more than 200 countries – an estimated global average audience in the region of 165 million (and a projected global unique reach of 380 million viewers) tuning in to see Real Madrid CF fight back to defeat Club Atlético de Madrid 4-1 after extra time.
Fans inside the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica were kept on the edge of their seats for 120 minutes, and the same applied to sofas in Spain; the game was the most watched UEFA Champions League final ever in the country and also the largest TV audience in Spain since the national team won UEFA EURO 2012.
The final is one of 15 matchdays in the UEFA Champions League calendar and all of them proved to be extremely popular with fans, generating global audiences of between 112 and 200 million viewers during live match broadcasts.
The competition continues to be covered innovatively and thoroughly on UEFA.com and UEFA's social media channels. UEFA.com had 1.5 million visitors on the day of the final, the 20 per cent increase on last year no doubt helped by three goals being scored in extra time.
The number of followers of UEFA's official social media channels has burst through the 50 million barrier this season, led by the astonishing growth of the UEFA Champions League Facebook page. With almost 30 million likes, it is the most followed league or association page on the platform having been at 11.4 million on matchday one back in September.
For the first time, the official event hashtag – #UCLfinal – featured on the LED boards around the pitch in Lisbon, leading to it being used more than one million times, while Facebook live studio interviews were streamed both to visitors to the UEFA Champions Festival via a giant screen and to the world on the platform. The UEFA President Michel Platini also took questions from fans around the world in a Facebook Q&A session.
Key engagement points during final week included:
• 26 million people had 67 million Facebook interactions related to the final – the biggest buzz being created in Mexico (followed by Indonesia, Brazil and Spain).
• UEFA's official page added 1.3 million fans during final week, and 400,000 on the day of the game – helped by posts being geo-targeted to Spanish speakers for the first time.
• UEFA's TrophyCam series of videos – where we see through the eyes of the UEFA Champions League trophy as it journeys from UEFA HQ to Lisbon, meeting supporters and famous faces on the way – had 12 million video views on Facebook, while more than 16,000 people created and shared a 'trophy selfie'.
• 8.4 million tweets referring to the final, the teams and the players from 60 minutes before kick-off until after the trophy lift, with a peak of 209,594 tweets per minute after Gareth Bale put Real Madrid 2-1 up.
• The number of followers of the @ChampionsLeague Twitter account doubled to 4.6 million during the season, helping to push the use of #UCLfinal over the one million mark as well as the endorsement by both finalists.
• Legends taking part in the Ultimate Champions match posed for pictures using the Instastop camera. The mirrored tablet took photo-booth style headshots of the players and sent them out via UEFA's Instagram account. Over 190,000 followers of UEFA.com on Instagram were able to follow the final on the platform for the first time.
• Chinese competition winners provided content from Lisbon for UEFA's Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo accounts, now followed by a combined 1.99 million fans in the country.
The UEFA Champions Festival proved a further hub for digital engagement as 95,000 fans descended on the picturesque Terreiro do Paço for the annual four-day event. More than 13,000 people had their day made by having a picture taken with the most famous trophy in club football, a photograph they could subsequently share on Facebook. Some of these appeared on an eye-catching Facebook and Instagram tower, which curated content from both networks and generated two million updates or syncs.
As usual, the highlight of the festival was the Ultimate Champions match on Friday as 20 players who have claimed football's biggest prizes rolled back the years in front of a packed crowd. Among the fortysomethings as a Selecção side coached by Paulo Futre took on Emilio Butragueño's UEFA All-Stars was 23-year-old David Pereira – the Lisbon resident having won a competition to play between the posts as the All-Stars found themselves short of a goalkeeper.
The competition only ran for 24 hours yet video entries from hopefuls came in from the likes of Aruba, New York, Australia, Syria and Canada, as well as nations all across Europe – underlining that the UEFA Champions League is a truly global event.
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