Argentina superstar Lionel Messi’s hugely anticipated debut for French soccer giants Paris Saint-Germain drew record audiences in France and Spain on Sunday.
Despite only playing around 30 minutes after coming on as a second half substitute, Messi’s first appearance in Ligue 1 was watched by over 10.5 million viewers in France, according to L’Equipe.
This made it the most-watched Ligue 1 match ever in the country.
PSG’s 2-0 win over Reims was shown on streaming platform Amazon Prime Video, which last month secured rights to show eight matches per round in a three-year deal worth €260 million ($307.3 million) per annum.
Messi’s appearance also had a huge effect on viewing numbers in Spain, where he played for Barcelona for 21 years, as a peak audience of around 6.7 million tuned in across two platforms, setting a new viewership record for a Ligue 1 game in the country.
Telecinco, the Spanish free-to-air commercial channel, attracted an average of 2.2 million viewers, with an audience share of 18.6 per cent, while an average of 343,000 and more than 2 million unique viewers watched the match on the Twitch channel of popular Spanish internet streamer and content creator Ibai Llanos.
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Last week, Kosmos, the sports and media investment group founded by Spanish soccer star and Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Gerard Pique, and Enjoy Television, the Madrid-based rights company, acquired rights to the French top-flight in Spain and replaced pay-TV operator Movistar.
The two parties decided to sub-licence rights to PSG’s clash against Reims to Twitch and Telecinco, marking the first time in Spain that the same content has been broadcast live on two different platforms simultaneously.
Pique also made an appearance alongside Llanos in the live-stream for the match.
PSG will take on Clermont Foot in their next fixture on 11 September following the international break where Messi is expected to make his home debut at the Parc des Princes.
Meanwhile, Messi’s debut was shown in India by Viacom18, one of the country’s leading entertainment networks, after it snapped up domestic Ligue 1 rights late last week.
The French top-tier got underway earlier this month with no official broadcast deal in India. French television network TV5 Monde was the sole broadcaster of select matches in the Asian country.
Viacom18, a joint venture between US media giant Viacom and the Mumbai-based Network 18 Group, will now air the remainder of the season after the league listed the company as an official broadcast partner on its website.
The network will have both linear and digital rights in India with matches to be made available on its Viacom18 TV channels, Voot streaming service and telecoms company Jio.
The agreement means Viacom18 now has rights to three of Europe’s top five leagues after also recently acquiring Spain’s LaLiga and Italy’s Serie A in three-year deals.