Barcelona’s on-pitch performance in rather comprehensively beating Manchester United in the 2011 UEFA Champions League final has been matched on-screen by FOX Sports in the US.

Still in essence a nascent market for football the US has lately shown signs of a huge appetite for the beautiful game—as indeed ably demonstrated by Messrs Messi, Iniesta and Xavi Hernández at Wembley—with the 2010 World Cup returning encouraging viewing figures. These have been bolstered by the Barca and Man U match according to Nielsen Media Research was the highest-rated and most watched game in US history.

FOX Sports Media Group's coverage combined on FOX and FOX Deportes drew an audience of 4.2 million viewers nationally, small by European standards, but dwarfing the ratings and audience of a year ago by +75% and +91%, respectively.

The FOX over-the-air broadcast earned a 1.4/4 household rating/share, with an audience of 2.6 million viewers compared to a 1.0 HH rating and 1.6 million viewers a year ago, +40% in rating and +63% in audience. FOX Deportes also netted a 0.7/2 rating in total US homes, with an audience of 1.6 million, +133% in HH rating (0.3) and +167% in audience (600,000).

The data showed that the US viewership of the UEFA Champions League Final has exploded in recent years with 2011 being the seventh straight year that English-language viewing of the Champions League Final has increased in the country. Over the last 10 years, viewing has increased almost 10-fold, from 264,000 viewers on ESPN in 2002 to 2.6 million on FOX this year.

Significantly, the final earned a 1.8 rating among Men 18-34 on FOX, which is +29% higher than the HH rating. FOX noted that it is exceptionally rare for a sports event to be that much stronger among the younger demo than it is overall.

The FOX Deportes presentation was also the highest-rated ever on Spanish-language television and generated the biggest audience for any event in the history of Spanish-language sports networks, attracting 1.5 million Spanish language viewers, a record for any Spanish-language sports cable network in the U.S., up +206% compared to the 2010 Champions League Final, more than tripling the near half million of number of Hispanic viewers from a year ago. The match pulled a 13.0 coverage area HH rating, the third-highest in the network’s history and up an incredible +152% compared with 2010’s game