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The World Cup Has The Champions League Beat When It Comes To TV And Money

The quality of soccer might be better in the Champions League, but there's no beating the business of the World Cup.

We previously compared the TV viewership, revenue and prize money of the World Cup and the Super Bowl, and the World Cup had the clear advantage across the board. Although a closer contest, the World Cup vs Champions League analysis yields a similar result. The World Cup can't be topped.

World Cup vs Champions League, By The Numbers

More than one billion people tuned into the World Cup final between Germany and Arentina in 2014. The average number of viewers during the match was closer to 700 million, which is more than four times the average number of people who watched the 2014 Champions League final. 

World Cup vs Champions League

The U.S. TV audience similarly reflects the popularity of the World Cup final relative to the Champions League final.

World Cup vs Champions League

The 2011 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United is still the only UCL final to attract more than 4 million viewers in the U.S. The last two finals have eclipsed three million average viewers, but it's clear that the World Cup final has been a much bigger draw over the years.

In terms of revenue, both FIFA and UEFA are bringing in significant sums for the World Cup and Champions League, respectively.

World Cup vs Champions League

Since 2010, the Champions League revenue per game has more than doubled, in large part due to lucrative TV deals. Once the group stage is set, there are nearly twice as many Champions League games (125) as there are World Cup games (64).

In spite of the fact the 2018 World Cup will generate approximately double the revenue of the 2018 Champions League, teams get paid a lot more for playing in the UCL than they do for playing in the World Cup. Real Madrid collected $102 million for winning the 2017-18 Champions League. By comparison, the soccer federation of the 2018 World Cup champion will receive $38 million.

World Cup vs Champions League

The discrepancy in prize money can't just be chalked up to the prohibitive costs of hosting the World Cup. Russia has spent nearly $12 billion to host the 2018 World Cup, but FIFA has a history of negligible reimbursements.

As we're not too far removed from one of the largest cases of corruption in the history of sports, it's easy to imagine some of the $5 billion in 2018 World Cup revenue getting lost in the shuffle.

Regardless, prize money is the one area where the World Cup vs Champions League analysis gives UEFA's premier event the edge. Otherwise, World Cup viewership and revenue cannot be topped.

That is, unless Usain Bolt is running a 100-meter dash. But even when comparing the World Cup and Olympics, FIFA holds its own. 

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