via press release:
FOX SPORTS MEDIA GROUP PROVIDES EXCLUSIVE U.S.
COVERAGE OF BARCELONA – MANCHESTER UNITED CLASSIC
FOX Sports, FOX Deportes & FOX Soccer Blanket World-Class
2011 UEFA Champions League Final, Live on Saturday, May 28
New York & Los Angeles – FC Barcelona, who many argue is the best soccer club in the world, and Manchester United FC, perhaps the world’s most popular and valuable soccer franchise, meet on Saturday, May 28 at London’s legendary Wembley Stadium in the prestigious 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, and FOX Sports Media Group networks carry all the action in the U.S.
FOX Sports, for the second consecutive year, is the exclusive over-the-air broadcast home for the UEFA Champions League Final, while FOX Deportes, the nation’s leading Hispanic sports network, delivers its exclusive live coverage in Spanish. Pregame coverage begins at 2:00 PM ET on FOX Sports, with the FOX Deportes’ pregame show beginning at 1:00 PM ET. FOX Soccer, America’s premier soccer-only network, carries a special one-hour game-day pregame at 1:00 PM ET, as well as a one-hour match preview on Friday, May 27 at 8:00 PM ET. Match coverage on May 28 kicks-off at 2:45 PM ET on both FOX Sports and FOX Deportes.
Last year, the Champions League Final became one of the few international soccer championships to receive broadcast television exposure in the U.S. The match between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan attracted 1.6 million viewers on FOX, +14% compared to the 2009 match between Manchester United and Barcelona on ESPN (1.4 million), and 2.2 million when combined with FOX Deportes, +6% compared to 2009’s combined audience on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (2.07 million).
Curt Menefee, FOX NFL SUNDAY co-host and a fan of world-class soccer for years, anchors pregame, halftime and postgame coverage for FOX Sports and FOX Soccer’s coverage as well, live from Wembley. Menefee is joined by FOX Soccer analysts Eric Wynalda, a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the second-leading goal scorer in U.S. soccer history; retired English national team and Newcastle United player Warren Barton; and retired U.S. national team player Christopher Sullivan. Aston Villa goalkeeper and former U.S. international player Brad Friedel joins the panel in London as guest analyst. Martin Tyler (play by play) and Alan Smith (analyst) call the action.
Alejandro Blanco and Daniel Brailovsky host pregame, halftime and post-game match analysis for FOX Deportes, while Raul Orvañanos, Luis Omar Tapia, Eduardo Biscayart, and Gustavo Mendoza call the match for FSMG’s Spanish-language network.
The match features, arguably, the two best soccer teams in the world and a pair of three-time European champions. Barcelona and Manchester United have combined to win 38 titles in their respective domestic leagues. The teams last met on this stage in the 2009 Champions League Final in Rome, when Barcelona beat Manchester United 2-0.
Spanish La Liga leader FC Barcelona, which features seven players from the starting 11 that led Spain to 2010 World Cup glory, is making its seventh appearance in the UEFA Champions League Final. Barcelona advanced on the strength of its fast-paced offensive attack that recorded a Champions League-best 27 goals this term. Lionel Messi, who won FIFA’s World Player of the Year award the past two years, leads Champions League play with 11 goals this year.
Barclays Premier League leader Manchester United is in its third Champions League Final in the last four years, and its fifth overall. Guided by famed manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United sports the best defensive record in the Champions League, conceding only four goals in 12 matches. Leading the attack is forward Wayne Rooney, who scored vital goals in the Red Devils’ Champions League quarterfinal tie against Chelsea and semifinal tie against Schalke 04.
US viewership for both legs of the 2011 UEFA Champions League semifinals showed significant growth on FOX Sports Media Group networks compared to a year ago. Both legs combined on FOX Soccer, FX and FOX Deportes totaled almost 3 million viewers (2.95 million), +75% compared to a year ago (1.69 million) on FOX Soccer, FSN and Fox Sports En Español.