Now that the first two weeks are complete and the tournament is progressing into the second round, it is clear that Germany’s quest for a fourth FIFA World Cup™ title has glued the host nation to the television, with viewing figures “at home” up 51% percent on average over the previous tournament in 2002.
Meanwhile, from “overnight” audience research in 45 key markets, a positive picture is emerging, with some surprising and significant trends. They are being collated by Sponsorship Intelligence, a UK-based research driven consultancy appointed by Infront Sports & Media and FIFA Marketing & TV.
Germany’s first four matches scored a combined TV audience on German public service broadcasters ZDF and ARD of 87.6 million, which gives an average of 21.9 million per match, according to data provided by Sponsorship Intelligence. This compares with an average 14.5 million viewers who followed each of the first four matches in 2002. It is also up on France 1998 – staged in Europe in the same time zone – which makes a fairer comparison.
In 1998, the first four German games attracted a cumulative audience of 85.5 million, on average half a million viewers fewer per match than in 2006. Taking into consideration that huge public viewing is a feature of the 2006 event and not yet taken into account in these early figures, the total audience is likely to be much higher.
In Berlin, for example, police estimated that up to one million fans converged on the official Fan Fest public viewing venue in front of the Brandenburger Tor on Saturday to watch the host nation beat Sweden for a quarterfinal berth.
Also in Europe, the television rating for the live coverage of the Netherlands vs. Argentina match broadcast on NL2 was the highest of any broadcast so far. It achieved a rating of 52.5% (TVR*), an audience of 7.2 million viewers and a market share** of 80.3%.
In England, 16.3 million UK television viewers watched England's first “sudden death” match against Ecuador, broadcast live by the BBC. The figure equated to a 79-per-cent audience share. The game was the second-highest-rated match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ thus far in the UK after ITV's coverage of the England vs. Sweden tie last Tuesday, which averaged 18.8 million viewers and peaked at 20.9 million.
Elsewhere, the international appeal of the tournament was illustrated by the fact that more people in China tuned into the England vs. Paraguay game than the entire populations of England and Paraguay. The match was broadcast in China on CCTV-5 at 9pm in the evening, attracting 62.9 million viewers, with 22.3% of China’s television viewers at that time choosing to watch the match.
In South Korea, the France vs. Korean Republic match was watched by 11.2 million in Korea, a TVR of 24.9%, a staggering figure when considering the match was shown at 4am local time. The rating is only 7.3 points behind the rating of 32.2% by TF1 in France.
Brazil’s two opening matches attracted 60.5 million and 54.5 million respectively, both achieving a market share in the region of 90%. The audience for Brazil’s match against Croatia was only 0.4 rating points short of the audience of 2002’s final match.
16.8 million Argentinean viewers watched the Argentina vs. Ivory Coast game, an impressive market share of 93.6%.
In the USA, the Argentina-Mexico match broadcast on Univision was the most-watched sports telecast in the history of US Spanish-language television, with an average of 6.7 million viewers. Univision’s overall audience figures are very good compared to the 2002 (+155%) and the 1998 (+91%) events.
Infront is exclusively responsible for the worldwide marketing and sales of the broadcast rights to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. It has made the event more widely available than ever before. There will be the highest number of broadcasters (more than 500) in the history of the FIFA World Cup™ and coverage provided in virtually every country of the world.
The Infront press kit and full lists of the broadcast partners and new media licensees for 2006 FIFA World Cup™ are available at www.infrontsports.com/press/.
* Expressed as a percentage, a television rating (TVR) is defined as the proportion of individuals viewing each broadcast in relation to the total potential audience of the channel. (Note: in some cases the potential audience is not the total population!)
**Market share refers to the proportion of people watching the broadcast as a percentage of all individuals watching television at that point in time. Whilst this figure may be high, it can in fact represent a small number of people, e.g. for programmes broadcast at unsocial times. Hence TVR's and Market Shares should be considered concurrently to appreciate the full picture.
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