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Supercopa final in Saudi nets 1.97m Spanish pay-TV viewers

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 12: Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid lifts the trophy with his team. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

The first Spanish Supercopa to be played in Saudi Arabia yielded an average of 1.43 million viewers on Movistar+’s pay-television platform, with the final between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid attracting an average of 1.97 million viewers.

The audience for the final reached a peak of 2.2 million viewers as the game went to penalties, reports Spanish sports news website Palco23.

FC Barcelona’s match against Atlético Madrid was the most-watched semi-final with an average of 1.27 million viewers, while Valencia CF’s semi-final against Real Madrid brought in 1.05 million viewers.

The effect of switching from a free-to-air to a pay-television broadcast platform was reflected in the number of viewers for the competition’s final.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE held the rights to the previous final (in 2018), attracting an average audience of 4.8 million viewers on La 1 and a 36.5-per-cent audience share. The audience peaked at 5.4 million viewers (a 39.7-per-cent share).

Telefónica-owned Movistar+ acquired the exclusive domestic rights to the Spanish Supercopa until 2022.

The bidding process was marred by several broadcasters condemning the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) decision to agree a hosting deal with Saudi Arabia for the competition.

The hosting deal will last for three years and was believed to be worth €120m ($133.8m) over the duration of the contract.

RTVE announced that it would not be bidding for the rights on ethical grounds and was joined by media rights agency Mediapro in declining to bid on the basis of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas also criticised the RFEF’s decision, citing Saudi Arabia’s alleged support for pirate broadcaster beoutQ which has wrought havoc for rights-holders worldwide.

Spanish commercial broadcasters Atresmedia and Mediaset announced that they would not be bidding for the rights as they did not view the rights to be value for money.

RFEF president Luis Rubiales threatened legal action against RTVE, claiming that the broadcaster’s decision to not bid was “contrary to market laws” in Spain.