When it comes to global sporting events, there’s no doubt that it’s the Super Bowl vs the Champions League final over bragging rights for the best sporting event on the planet.
Of course, every sports fan has a preference between American football and European football. But what if we were to be completely objective with regard to the Super Bowl vs the Champions League final?
Super Bowl vs Champions League comparison
Needless to say, there are a lot of factors to look at when trying to determine the biggest sporting event in the world. That’s why we wanted to approach this question from every angle possible angle. Join us, as we try to find a conclusive answer to the best sporting event on the planet.
The first step in differentiating the Super Bowl from the Champions League final is looking at the history of each event. Including the time that the Champions League was known as the European Cup, the competition has been around since the 1955-56 season when Real Madrid won the first final 4-3 over French side Reims. Real Madrid would go on to win the competition in each of the first five years it was held.
The Super Bowl, meanwhile, only came along about a decade later during the 1966 NFL and AFL seasons. The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967, as the Packers beat the Chiefs 35-10.
Obviously, it’s easier to track how many Super Bowls there have been because each one is numbered. If we did that for the Champions League, we would soon be approaching the 70th Champions League final.
Level of difficulty
It’s not a stretch to say that sporting events become more meaningful based on the level of difficulty that comes with winning them. In the case of the Super Bowl, it’s usually the third or fourth of a win-or-go-home playoff game that teams have to win that comes after a grueling 17-game regular season.
Fewer than half of the teams in the NFL qualify for the playoffs, and then there is little margin for error in the playoffs.
Of course, winning the Champions League presents a different type of grueling. Just to qualify for the Champions League, teams have to finish at or near the top of their domestic league the previous season.
They then have to play their Champions League schedule simultaneously with their domestic schedule. With so many games on their schedule both at home and abroad, teams have to play six games during the Group Stage and then advance through three rounds of the Knockout Stage to reach the final.
Granted, there is a little more margin for error with each round of the Knockout Stage having two legs. But even with fewer games to play, the level of difficulty to reach the Champions League final is a little higher than that of the Super Bowl.
Global TV audience
Needless to say, global popularity is important when it comes to the competition between the Super Bowl and the Champions League final. Viewing figures for the Super Bowl are typically around 100 million people. The record for Super Bowl viewers came in February 2015 when the Patriots and Seahawks attracted 114.4 million viewers.
The Super Bowl in February 2022 between the Bengals and Rams came close with 112 million viewers, so the popularity of the Super Bowl with audiences is holding steady.
However, Champions league watchers compared to the Super Bowl is far greater. On average, the Champions League final attracts at least 400 million viewers worldwide. In 2021, the Champions League final surpassed even that with 700 million viewers. That number even topped the previous World Cup Final in 2018 between France and Croatia, which had a mere 517 global viewers.
As the viewership numbers indicate, the Champions League final has a larger impact on the global population than the Super Bowl. While soccer is still gaining in popularity in the U.S., it’s already the most popular sport in most other parts of the world.
Keep in mind the starting lineups for the 2022 Champions League final included players from over a dozen different countries. On the contrary, the Super Bowl features almost exclusively American-born players. While the number of British NFL players and players from other parts of the world is growing, the league is primarily composed of Americans, hurting the global appeal of the Super Bowl.
There is at least one area where the Super Bowl is untouchable compared to the Champions League final, and that’s with regard to the halftime show. The Super Bowl halftime show is essentially the biggest televised concert in the U.S. year after year.
The best halftime shows in Super Bowl history live forever in the memory of the audience and are sometimes more appealing to a large contingent of viewers than the game itself. In fairness, the Champions League final offers plenty of pageantry and entertainment beyond the game, but it’s still far behind the Super Bowl in that department.
It’s no secret that the bigger the sporting event, the bigger the stadium. The Super Bowl is always held in one of the biggest venues in the U.S. To date, five Super Bowls have had over 100,000 fans in attendance with four of those five games being held in the famous Rose Bowl.
In modern times, 70,000 fans is close to the bare minimum for a Super Bowl.
On the contrary, the Champions League final has drawn more than 100,000 fans just twice in a longer history. In fact, only six games have had an attendance topping 90,000 fans. In fairness, the Champions League final moves throughout an entire continent, and not every stadium in each host country has a capacity as high as the biggest Super Bowl stadiums.
That being said, the Super Bowl does have a clear advantage over the Champions League final when it comes to stadium size and crowd size.
While attendance is important, it doesn’t always tell the whole story. To compare the Super Bowl with the Champions League final, it’s worth looking at how much fans are paying to attend the event. While they’re not cheap by any stretch, tickets to the Champions League final are typically more affordable than Super Bowl tickets.
Even good tickets with a great view of the field can be found for a few hundred dollars. On the other side, the face value of Super Bowl tickets is usually at least a few thousand dollars. When you factor in that most Super Bowl tickets sold on the secondary market, prices skyrocket quickly and can sometimes be 10 times as much as tickets to the Champions League final.
When it comes to the Super Bowl vs the Champions League final, the winner is the Champions League final. Expensive ticket prices and half-time shows aside, the Champions League final has the Super Bowl beat in most other areas.
It’s been around longer, it’s a little more difficult to win, and it attracts a far greater TV audience. In the U.S., the Super Bowl will always be king. But if we’re talking about the best single sporting event on the planet year after year, it’s the Champions League final.