Soccer is the most watched TV sport in a majority of countries across the world. Huge audiences tune in to watch major international soccer events like the World Cup. Initiative expects a global live cumulative audience of more than 5 billion viewers during World Cup 2006.
In addition to attracting huge global TV audiences, Initiative’s most recent ViewerTrack shows that in many countries the audience profile of 2006 World Cup is relatively upmarket. Upmarket adults can be up to two-thirds more likely to watch World Cup 2006 than all adults. Of the 41 countries for which upmarket adult data is currently available, the top ten markets with the most upmarket profiles are:
1. Lithuania 6. Turkey 2. Mexico 7. Peru 3. India 8. Finland 4. Bulgaria 9. Germany 5. Spain 10. Serbia and Montenegro
Relative to the overall population, upmarket adults are most likely to watch the World Cup in Lithuania. In Lithuania, World Cup 2006 coverage is concentrated in media consumed disproportionately by upmarket adults, including the national TV station LRT, online and in the press. With the World Cup featuring most heavily in these media, more upmarket audiences are exposed to all the action. Interest in the World Cup is also particularly high amongst upmarket audiences due to Lithuanian soccer history. Many upmarket adults of today were swept up by soccer passion as teenagers in the 1980s when Zalgirs, one of Lithuania’s most famous teams, was very successful.
Whilst World Cup 2006 has a relatively upmarket profile globally, audiences in France, Malaysia and Uruguay are less upmarket.
Canada has finally fallen in love with the World Cup. The 2006 FIFA World Cup is one of the most diverse cultural events, which holds the entire global public under its spell. That’s especially true in Canada, where viewership numbers have shown surprising strength. In fact, viewership for the first fourteen matches in Canada has increased an astonishing 150% versus the 2002 World Cup, and 125% higher than in 1998. In fact, Canadian audiences have provided the third largest audience increase to date for the event.
The increase in viewership goes beyond the broadcaster and improved timeslot. Even though we don’t have a team that qualified, Canadians have rallied around the World Cup as a way of expressing national and international pride. The Cup is also great entertainment. There are a number of countries that are competing for the first time which is drawing even more viewers to the matches. This bodes really well for the FIFA U-20 World Cup next year, which Canada is hosting.
In Toronto, where the Initiative office is located, you don’t actually need to watch the match to see who won. Within minutes, everyone is in their cars, up and down the downtown streets with flags spilling out the back. Up until that point, who knew there were that many Swedes in Toronto? Or if you don’t have a car, you just hang out at the appropriate corner store, delicatessen, or restaurant like the Turks last cup, and wave your flag at the passing honking cars.
Canada loves a Cinderella story – we still tell stories about beating Russia in hockey in 1972. And since our own team didn’t make it to the cup – we’re ranked 83rd, behind Oman – you can root for any team at all. In the Initiative office? We had our hopes on Paraguay!
Chris Herlihey, VP Research Director, IPG Media, Canada
Convenience is more important to consumers than ever before. They want to enjoy media on their own terms, deciding for themselves how, when and where they consume it. Even though the World Cup is such a major sporting event and only comes around every four years, it still needs to be broadcast at convenient times of day to attract the largest possible audiences.
Initiative’s most recent ViewerTrack shows that World Cup 2006 is more popular than World Cup 2002 in terms of the global TV audience, because live matches are being shown at much more convenient times of day for fans in Europe and South America. Overall global average audiences for World Cup 2006 matches are up by 25 per cent from 2002.
World Cup 2006 has seen audience growth in many European and South American countries compared with 2002. Live matches from World Cup 2006 are shown in the afternoon and peak evening slots across Europe, attracting far more viewers than in 2002, when live matches were shown in the morning in Europe. Even though afternoon matches are less popular than evening matches, they are still more watched than those broadcast in the morning. Audiences have increased the most in 2006 compared with 2002 in key European soccer markets, such as the Netherlands (+10.1 ratings), Germany (+7.9 ratings) and Switzerland (+7.7 ratings).
These increases in TV ratings in Europe and South America have more than compensated for the fall in World Cup 2006 audiences in Asia compared with 2002. With Japan / South Korea hosting the last World Cup and the unexpected success of South Korea in reaching the semi-finals, local interest pushed Asian World Cup audiences up to their highest ever levels in 2002. However, matches from World Cup 2006 are shown live late at night and in the early hours of the morning in Asia, which has depressed their viewing figures. Audiences are down notably in Malaysia (-6.6 ratings) and South Korea (-3.6 ratings) for 2006 vs. 2002.
Italian TV station Rai 1 continues to enjoy the fruits of its World Cup coverage. Viewing figures released for the final Italy group game against the Czech Republic showed that Rai 1 enjoyed a 78.2% share of viewing. This was even higher than the 71% share it enjoyed in the previous Italy group game against the USA. In total, 15.8m people tuned in to the match, even though it was broadcast live in Italy at 4pm, while many Italians were still at work.
Goals from Materazi and Inzaghi gave Italy a 2-0 win, and as the knock-out phase commences the Italian soccer bandwagon shows no signs of slowing down. Employees at Initiative Milano also got into the spirit of things by watching the game together in the staff room. As these pictures show, it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but in the end everyone went home happy!
Traditionally the Spanish national squad has never built up passion among their fellow citizens, mainly because they have never obtained good results in important international competitions. And in this country, if a Spaniard does not win, the event itself does not inspire much passionate interest. Having said this, Spanish audiences in this World Cup are especially low compared to previous years because of the broadcasting arrangements.
The La Sexta channel came on the scene at the beginning of this year with very low coverage in homes. Faced with the challenge of making the Spanish population take up their signal, it decided to buy the broadcasting rights of the 2006 World Cup. No better way to move people than to place a juicy carrot before their noses! They paid what no other channel was prepared to pay, because no other channel was going to pay more than the revenue to be obtained from the sale of publicity. In the end, they were allotted the World Cup in the midst of heated debate, because many Spaniards were not going to be able to see Spain’s matches. Finally, agreement was reached with Cuatro, another channel with almost universal coverage. In this way, matches of general interest and those in which Spain played would be on the screens of almost all Spanish households. That was not the best solution to maximize audience in Spain.
What has been the outcome of all this? La Sexta sees it as an investment that is giving them a lot of visibility and, at the same time, speeding up the process of spreading their signal. By using such a unique event as the World Cup, they will most likely speed up to the maximum their presence in the Spanish home, which will allow them, after the World Cup, to compete on equal terms with the rest of the channels and obtain a slice of the advertising pie.
It seems that things are going well for them. Spain won 4-0 in its first match against Ukraine and the original scepticism has turned into unleashed passion. With almost ten million spectators, the opening match of the Spanish national squad has surpassed figures for the same match in the World Cup of 2002, in spite of the low audience data obtained up to now in the championship. We could well win the World Cup. If Fernando Alonso wins the F1 races, Barcelona, the Champions League, Nadal, the Roland Garros Tournament, why can’t such young players as Torres, Alonso, Fábregas and company win the World Cup? And in the meantime, La Sexta sees the number of Spaniards tuning onto their channel increasing day by day.
Jon Artolozaga, Strategic Resources Director, Initiative Madrid
I'm a Brit on holiday in Rwanda currently. I've been away since day 1 of the World Cup. Plenty of advertising here in the capital Kigali about the tournament - mainly MTN phone network and drinks brands (coca-cola especially). I say plenty of advertising, that is a relative term here for even in the capital there aren't that many ad hoardings etc. The local English language daily (New Times) has a smattering of coverage - mainly its back page. The new weekly paper "Focus" featured a pull-out wall chart in its latest edition, with KO times in BST, even though we are on continental time here. I haven't really checked what the local Kinyrwanda language papers are doing.
Bars show the matches, that is for sure. Some with English commentary, some French (Canal+). But only a few matches seem to generate much local interest and audience. Ghana's first match was the main one I have seen have a strong local following. But I have been out on the road and/or staying in places without a TV, so don't have a full picture. Can't get English commentary on radio though, which is annoying.
People seem only mildly interested in the World Cup here, certainly compared to what I was expecting. I have asked a variety of men and youths - in my mixture of French, Swahili and English - which team they support. The most common response .... Arsenal! Seen many Arsenal shirts and other fake merchandise around and being worn. The ex-pat community is very different though! They were handing out German flags at the German-run supermarket in town yesterday. And a meeting in the Finance Ministry was postponed yesterday as the English people there wanted to see the England-Trinidad match. I caught a few Min's of it in a very popular bar. Yet it wasn't that popular last night. We were the only Wang (white people) there and there were maybe a dozen Rwandans watching too. Perhaps the timing had something to do with it, I don't know. Don't get me wrong, the football passion is alive here, just not to nearly the same extent as many other countries this month.