Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain debut was the most-watched Ligue One fixture in the history of TV fixtures in France.
After signing on a free transfer following his shock departure from Barcelona, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner played his first game for his new employers in a 2-0 win over Reims.
Messi entered the fray in the 65th minute, replacing Neymar in a historic substitution and being applauded by all corners of the Stade Auguste Delaune.
Lionel Messi makes his PSG debut! 🔵🔴— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 29, 2021
History is made as the Argentine takes to the field for the first time in Ligue 1 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/WKBorEa4Sz
With Messi not fit and available for previous fixtures following on from an extended break due to the Copa America triumph with Argentina, all eyes were on his PSG bow.
In fact, according to L'Equipe, over 10.5 million viewers in France tuned in to get a glimpse of Messi and broke Ligue One viewing records as a result.
10.5 MILLION VIEWS THE MOST VIEWED LIGUE 1 GAME ........................ 10.5 PPL SAW MESSI PLAY LIVE NUMBERS WILL NEVER LIE 🤩— AD21 (@2109Adithya) August 30, 2021
If that wasn't a big enough indicator of the 'Messi effect', TV ratings in Spain were also through the roof. Kosmos Holding, Gerard Pique's company, secured the rights to Ligue One and their first broadcast was the most-viewed French league fixture in Spanish history.
There were an average of 343,000 spectators and 2 million unique Spanish viewers on Ibai Llanos' Twitch channel, where it was aired for free, and 2.214.000 on average for TV channel Telecinco.
Messi’s first Ligue1 match has smashed the record and become the most viewed French league match in Spanish viewing history!@IbaiLlanos: 343.000 spectators and 2m unique Spanish viewers.— Kosmos (@KosmosOfficial) August 30, 2021
Spanish TV @telecincoes: 2.214.000 on average and a share of 18.6%https://t.co/r1wgTTohtS pic.twitter.com/lcuv1TF1LR
In total, the audience stood at 6,734.000 - huge numbers that highlight Messi's incredible global appeal.
Fans from all over the world bought tickets to see Messi in the flesh, including people from Chile, South Korea and India.
In the United Kingdom, BT Sport is the home of French top-flight action and the channel must be thinking they've struck gold with Messi in town.
Immediately after the game on Sunday evening, opposition goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic decided to shoot his shot by asking Messi to pose for a picture with his son.
The Messi Effect 😆😂— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 29, 2021
Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic asked Leo to have a photo with his child after their Ligue 1 clash. pic.twitter.com/wj5farL6ml
No way Reims players are taking pics of their kids with Messi 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/fp65luJHZV— J. (@MessiIizer) August 29, 2021
The 34-year-old happily obliged to give the young lad a quite insane souvenir.