Home » $2.86 per Champions League game vs $0.24: How much it costs to watch soccer in UK vs US

$2.86 per Champions League game vs $0.24: How much it costs to watch soccer in UK vs US

The Champions League final is the biggest club game on the calendar and the climax of the football season.

On June 1, Real Madrid, the 14-time winners of Europe’s elite club competition, will play German club Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium in London. According to UEFA, the game will be shown in more than 200 territories and will reach 450million people worldwide, with an estimated global average viewership of around 145m.

The most ardent of football supporters, be it in the United States or the United Kingdom, will devour any match if it is on TV, whether that is the Premier League, Ligue 1, Major League Soccer (MLS) or the Women’s Super League (WSL).

Fortunately for fans, most games are now available on TV — but just how much do those in the U.S. and the UK pay to tune in?

As part of TNT Sports’ deal with UEFA, the broadcaster has to make the Champions League final free to view in the UK, giving supporters a small reprieve from the monthly costs associated with watching football on TV.

Regular fixtures, however, are seldom made available for free, and following your team on TV, or another league, is not cheap.

For the figures in this article, the platform’s baseline cost is not factored in. For example, the cost of basic cable in the U.S. is not included in the figures, while in the UK, the cost of Sky or another satellite or cable provider — which is a necessity to watch Sky Sports — is not included. This is because, across the U.S. and through different cable providers, this varies too significantly to be fairly included in the cost.

Instead, only the price of subscribing to the broadcaster itself has been used.

And we have compared costs for watching the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and MLS — the top five European and top U.S. men’s leagues — the Champions League, the NWSL and the Women’s Super League.

United States

It’s no secret that streaming services are eating into consumers’ budgets, in addition to what the average person likely spends on standard cable or satellite each month. 

To have access to just about every game in the big five European men’s leagues, NWSL, Women’s Super League, plus MLS and the men’s and women’s Champions Leagues, get ready to shell out nearly $50 per month in the United States (and be ready to sign up for as many as six streaming services to do so). 

That is assuming you buy in for each at the lowest possible rate per month, which in many cases means paying a lump sum for an annual membership that saves you a few bucks in the long run.

To watch games across the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, the UEFA Champions League, WSL, MLS and NWSL, you’ll need access to Peacock, ESPN+, Paramount+, Apple’s MLS Season Pass, Prime Video and Fanatiz. 

Some of these services offer access to multiple leagues, like Paramount+, which has rights to Serie A, the Champions League, WSL and some NWSL games, and ESPN+, which has rights for the Bundesliga and La Liga. It really depends on which assortment of leagues a fan is interested in, so costs can vary. 

But signing up for all these services averages $47.13 per month. It’s worth noting the cost for Ligue 1 might change, depending on who picks up the league’s international rights now that beIN Sports’ contract has expired.

When considering how many games each league plays per season, it can cost anywhere from 13 cents to 43 cents per game to keep up with certain leagues. But are consumers really watching all 493 games in an MLS season?

If you watch every game that’s played across all nine leagues mentioned above, that’s close to 2,755 games to keep up with each year.

This number is heightened in the U.S. because of the lack of blackout, which means that if a broadcaster has the rights to a league, it can generally show every game that takes place in the division — unencumbered by any window in which they are not permitted to show live football. In the U.S., 2,816 games are available to watch every season across these leagues, compared to 2,155 in the U.K.

And for those reading this from the UK, there will be a sense of shock at the low cost of watching the Premier League — at $0.13 per game — and the Champions League — $0.24 per game — compared to the UK. The Champions League is almost 12 times cheaper to watch per match in the U.S. when compared to the UK.

Melanie Anzidei

United Kingdom

Premier League fans sometimes look on in envy at their American counterparts and their ability to watch every single game. But, unlike the U.S., there is a long-standing blackout rule in the UK that prevents 3pm kick-offs from being broadcast to help protect leagues further down the pyramid. 

If you want to watch the big five European leagues in the UK, as well as the MLS and WSL, you will need subscriptions to Sky Sports, TNT Sports, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and La Liga TV — and that will set you back just under £79 per month.

Sky Sports have the live rights to 128 Premier League matches a season and are the UK’s biggest broadcaster for England’s top flight. Signing up for their sports package, assuming you already have their basic offering, will cost an additional £22 a month, which works out at £1.72 at a game.

TNT Sports have the rights to 52 Premier League fixtures, with their monthly subscription costing £30.99, meaning each top-flight fixture they show costs £5.96. And then Amazon Prime Video Sport have a further 20 Premier League games each season.

This segmenting of Premier League rights over different broadcasters contributes significantly to the huge game-by-game cost of watching the English top flight in the UK when compared to the U.S.

It costs 27 times more to watch a single Premier League game in the UK compared to the U.S..

But subscribing to one platform in the UK tends to give viewers the right to other leagues. TNT Sports also has the rights to all 380 Serie A fixtures — although they could show only 345 live because of fixture clashes with the blackout — which they stream across their various platforms, including Discovery+, which works out at £0.82 per match. TNT also shows the French top flight, Ligue 1.

And while the Champions League final is made free-to-air in the UK, providing those who want to watch it register to Discovery+, TNT Sports has the exclusive rights to all UEFA competitions in the UK.

They screen all 125 Champions League fixtures, which is the equivalent of £2.23 per game.

Sky Sports has the rights to Bundesliga games and a big chunk of Women’s Super League games.

The most value for money, however, comes via La Liga TV, a streaming app that gives subscribers access to every non-blackout league fixture in Spain’s top flight.

As is the case in the U.S., fans of the MLS in the UK can watch all of the games via Apple TV, although the NWSL is currently unavailable to view in the UK because it is without a broadcast deal. As a result, we have left it out of our comparative charts, despite the immense popularity of the league in the U.S.

The WSL is split between Sky Sports and the BBC, with Sky Sports having the rights to 44 games, while the BBC can show up to 22 matches across its platforms. No figure has been given for the BBC because the UK’s licence fee covers the cost of that broadcaster. It is a requirement in the UK to have a TV licence if you watch any live television — making it almost impossible for anyone with a television not to pay this fee and therefore have access to these games.

Dan Sheldon

There has never been more football available to watch on TV, and the thirst to screen even more is only increasing.

But with that, however, comes rising costs, as TV rights deals that incorporate more live games will cost broadcasters more than the billions of pounds or dollars they are already spending to show Premier League fixtures.

And with UK fans having to fork out just under £80 per month to have the option of watching all the available matches, they might be looking on in envy at the Americans who are spending around $48 and have access to every Premier League match.

(Top photos: Getty Images)