Channel 5 could be set for an extra £13m in the bank as viewers turn to the channel for Europa League coverage since Manchester United and Manchester City’s unceremonious exits from the Champions League on Wednesday.
Industry experts predict that an all-Manchester final in the competition could lead to six million viewers for C5, owned by Richard Desmond.
This rise in audience – compared to last season’s average of 1.4m viewers – would see the channel rake in £10m on top of the Europa League’s usual £3m pay day as the ratings boost their overall year’s performance, making it more attractive to advertisers.
“Manchester might not be happy but Channel 5 are delighted,” said Nick Bampton, the channel’s commercial sales director.
“We get the two best teams in England entertaining our audiences for free, which in turn delivers mass audiences for our advertising partners.”
Appearances by the Manchester clubs are expected to draw 3m viewers to Channel 5 in the group stages, with the figures rising to 4-5m viewers if they reach the final rounds, according to industry predictions.
Channel 5 gets the first pick of the matches in the competition, showing 15 games live throughout the tournament while holding the exclusive UK broadcast rights to the final.
ITV4 and ESPN show the remainder of the matches, though ITV have won the rights to broadcast the Europa League from 2013.
United and City join fellow British clubs Birmingham City, Fulham, Stoke City and Celtic in the Europa League, but may not field their first teams to preserve their Premier League title challenges as ties are played on a Thursday.