BT Sport’s attempts to make this year’s Champions League final accessible to the widest possible audience saw its free YouTube live stream of the match viewed by around 1.8 million people.
The sports broadcaster saw its European viewing figures significantly boosted following the decision to air the game across its digital platforms including bt.com, the BT Sport App and YouTube as well on its TV channels.
With 4.3 million people watching the game on BT Sport’s TV channel, Real Madrid’s penalty shoot-out victory over rivals Atlético Madrid attracted a combined audience of 6.1 million for the broadcaster.
The figures round off BT Sport’s first season in charge of the Champions League after it agreed a £897m three-year contract with Uefa for the exclusive rights to Europe’s elite football competitions which also included the Europa League.
This year’s Europa League final in which Liverpool lost to Sevilla was also shown for free on YouTube and attracted an audience of over one million people, with 5 million watching on TV.
Together both finals were watched by over 12 million across both digital and TV platforms.
Delia Bushell, managing director of BT Sport, said the YouTube partnership marked “a new era of live mass broadcast for major sporting events, combining TV and digital media”.
He added that BT Sport would continue to “look for new and innovative ways of doing this across the full range of platforms that viewers are now using to consume content”.
The live YouTube streams of the fixtures mark the first time that the finals of either competition have been broadcast on digital and have helped BT Sport address criticisms over the declining audience figures since it took over the TV rights of the competitions.
Following the departure of the Champions League from ITV and Sky the average viewing figures for the group stages of the tournament peaked at just 200,000, a fraction of the 4.4 million average who watched the games on ITV last season.
Going forward it’s likely that the huge boost in audience viewing figures will help BT Sport when it comes to renegotiating the broadcast deal when it expires at the end of the 2017/18 season.