Real Madrid just edge Barcelona as the most popular club to watch for Spanish TV viewers so far in 2017-18, according to research published by La Liga.
Audience figures collected by Kantar Media were published on La Liga’s website, showing the total and average number of viewers who watched games on TV at home in the first 30 weeks of the current campaign.
Despite an indifferent campaign which sees Zinedine Zidane’s side currently third in the table, they achieved a total local TV audience so far of 37.7 million viewers — an average of 1.256m per fixture.
A total of 36.5m Spanish TV spectators — or 1.217m per game — have watched Ernesto Valverde’s team lead the table from the start, and remain unbeaten to hold a nine-point lead over second placed Atletico Madrid with just eight games remaining
Diego Simeone’s Atletico are third on a list in which La Liga have ranked the teams in order of their audience for games on Spanish pay-TV, with an average of 715,170 per game, followed by Valencia (550k), Sevilla (487k) and Athletic Bilbao (435k).
One La Liga game each week goes out on free-to-air, usually involving smaller clubs, with Real Betis having the greatest audience in these matches — an average of 957k viewers. So far this season none of the top six most popular sides have been chosen for the free-to-air game, which is usually screened either Friday or Monday evening.
Suburban Madrid side Leganes, playing just their second ever season in the top flight, come bottom of the pay TV list with an average of 287k viewers. However their one game which was shown free to air — at Betis in mid-January — was watched by just over 1m people on TV.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan