Saturday night, FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3-2 in the featured match of the 2017 International Champions Cup. That friendly between two of the biggest powers in world football had all of the drama organizers and fans wanted! That was coming when the ICC decided to pit these heated rivals against each other.
All of the major European clubs have went home except for Real Madrid (they will play the MLS All Stars Wednesday night at Chicago’s Soldier Field) and we’re left wondering who are the winners and losers from El Clásico Miami? Let’s break it down!
According to an ESPN press release, The Worldwide Leader televised the was seen by an average audience of 1.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched football match telecast on ESPN networks since last summer’s UEFA EURO 2016 in France.
With an audience of 836,000, the Real Madrid–FC Barcelona match is the most watched non-U.S. international friendly match ever on ESPN – topping the previous high, an international match between Mexico and Argentina on September 8, 2015, seen by 724,000 viewers. In addition, the Spanish-language telecast on ESPN Deportes and ESPN2 averaged 692,000 Hispanic viewers. It was the most streamed football match ESPN digital properties since the final match UEFA EURO 2016. Across all networks streaming provided a 4.5% lift on top of the TV audience.
Draw: The Fans
In some respects, the Fans did win. They were able to see their heroes (except for Cristiano Ronaldo, he didn’t show up due to his court appearance the following Monday in Spain), more than 35,000 people watched the teams practice Friday night. Earlier in the week, French football giants Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Juventus played at Hard Rock Stadium, held open practices for the fans. PSG based their training camp in Miami and even opened a popup shop where fans could get autographs, take pictures and hang out with the players.
However, it costs major money to being these heavyweights to America. It was reflected in the ticket prices. Tickets for El Clásico Miami started at over $200, which automatically turned away a large segment of South Florida’s most football-mad population. Yes, the $20 tickets for Friday night practice was awesome and 35,700 attended! So, it was a mixed bag. Let’s call it a draw.
Loser: Cristiano Ronaldo Fanboys
Even though, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane told everyone Cristiano wouldn’t rejoin Los Blancos until August 5th, the ICC organizers insisted upon slathering the global superstar on every piece of promo material in America. After he returned to Spain from his promotional tour in China, Cristiano announced he would not play in El Clásico Miami… the day before the biggest friendly on Planet Earth! He also did not play in the matches against Manchester United at Levi’s Stadium and Manchester City at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Certainly, to the chagrin of the ICC organizers, sponsors and fan boys alike. However, those who followed Real Madrid knew this game was only part of their preseason training and having Cristiano wouldn’t help or hinder their preparations for their European Super Cup match against Manchester United.
All in all, El Clásico Miami was a great week for ESPN and the football fans that were able to take part in the festivities! However, bringing these major clubs to the States comes at a high price because the Organizers have to pay these clubs millions in appearance fees. With that in mind, I can’t wait for Manchester United to pack 70,000 plus inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium next summer!