UEFA Champions League continues impressive digital growth

Real Madrid's thrilling 4-1 UEFA Champions League final victory was the culmination of another season of impressive digital growth for football's premier club competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo takes a selfie on a media day ahead of the UEFA Champions League final
Cristiano Ronaldo takes a selfie on a media day ahead of the UEFA Champions League final ©Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League's official website and mobile applications generated more than 137 million visits* in the course of the 2016/17 campaign, an increase of over 12% on the previous season. Additionally, downloads of the official competition app more than doubled to around 10.5 million users worldwide.

Highlights included the group stage draw in August, Barcelona's memorable comeback against Paris in the round of 16 and of course the 3 June final in Cardiff, which attracted almost 2.7 million visits on the matchday alone – nearly 500,000 more than for the 2016 final.

The #UCLfinal also proved a massive success on social media. From Cristiano Ronaldo becoming the first player in history to score in three UEFA Champions League finals to Mario Mandžukić's breath-taking overhead kick, there were plenty of memorable moments for fans to discuss – with 98 million interactions from 34 million people on Facebook and another 50 million interactions from 14 million on Instagram. In Twitter terms, there were nine million posts relating to the final.

A celebratory Real Madrid selfie
A celebratory Real Madrid selfie©Getty Images

The pre-final training sessions, press conferences and team arrivals were broadcast live on Facebook in addition to star interviews with former winners Luís Figo and Gianluca Zambrotta. The Black Eyed Peas, who played the final opening ceremony at the National Stadium of Wales, also shared their excitement as part of a live programme. Other special guests included NBA stars Juan Hernangómez, Joel Embiid and Clint Capela

In all, the official UEFA Champions League Facebook page – the most-followed sporting competition in the world with 63 million fans – registered more than 300 million video views over the course of 2016/17, including over 56 million in final week.

The number of fans following the competition's official Instagram account rose to 14.5 million during final week. DJ Steve Aoki and Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh's score predictions racked up the most impressions and video views, while TV presenter James Corden took over the account with an Instagram Live and a selfie from the stadium.

Meanwhile on Twitter, @ChampionsLeague triggered more than 12 million engagements across the season, extending its followers to around 15.6 million during final week. Many engagements came from high-profile sport and entertainment figures, among them Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, who shared her thoughts as part of the #AccessAllAreas campaign.

The stars were also present on UEFA's channels on Chinese networks Weibo and WeChat, with exclusive coverage, including predictions from popular sports commentators Liu Chang and Yan Qiang. It was in Cardiff, however, that the stars were really aligning.

*data correct up to and including 15 June 2017