Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


FIFA this month declared that the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was watched by half the world’s population, according to a 78-page report conducted for the world soccer governing body by the sports and entertainment research company KantarSport.

“… Over 3.2 billion people, or 46.4 percent of the global population, saw at least one minute of in-home television coverage of the event, representing an eight percent rise on figures recorded during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany,” FIFA World magazine reported in its August/September issue.

“Based on viewers watching at least 20 consecutive minutes of in-home coverage, the 2010 tournament reached 2.2 billion viewers or nearly a third of the world population–up three percent compared to 2006.  Since these figures cover only the ‘traditional’ viewers who followed matches on home television sets–and not those who watched games in public viewing zones, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, or even online and via mobile handsets–the total number of people who saw the 2010 FIFA World Cup is likely to have been much greater still.”  [August 23]

Comment:  Impressive numbers.  But it’s hard to believe that official viewership figures for the championship match weren’t bigger.

Said FIFA, the climactic game between Spain and Holland “was seen by 619.7 million in-home viewers based on those watching at least 20 consecutive minutes of coverage, and 909.6 million including those who watched for at least one minute.  Taking out-of-home viewers into account, at least a billion people are likely to have watched the final.  The average audience throughout the entire game was 530.9 million, an increase of five percent on the France v. Italy final from four years earlier.”

As noted in an earlier post (scroll down to “American Exceptionalism, Part XLV,” February 9), TV ratings showed that about 30 percent of all Americans tuned into the latest Super Bowl.   It was posited that if less than a third of Americans, the vast majority without a hometown rooting interest, could watch the title game of the USA’s most popular sport, then about a third of the world would take an interest in the championship game of the planet’s most popular sport–not the paltry 700 million intially estimated by FIFA.

From KantarSport’s Television Audience Report:  “While the TAR focused on ‘traditional’ in-home viewers, a separate analysis of out-of-home viewing carried out by the Germany-based agency SPORT+MARKT suggests that a considerable number of fans followed the action in pubs, bars, restaurants, clubs and public viewing zones.  Based on surveys conducted in 15 major countries, the analysis found that the inclusion of such fans would lead to an 11.8 percent rise in the total viewing figures.  This, in turn, does not include online and mobile views, whose numbers are also now in the millions.”

Still, 11.8 seems awfully conservative.  All those shots during the final of thousands gathered in town squares to watch on jumbo screens–never mind the dozens crammed into countless bars and social halls around the world–suggest otherwise.  Wouldn’t at least a few of those 3.2 billion who checked out at least a minute of the tournament be a wee bit curious as to how this monthlong drama came out?


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