Knowing that the United States was not competing in the 2018 Fifa World Cup, people were skeptical about how many Americans would tune in to watch the other countries compete. Now, as the semi-final games approach, it is clear that not having a home team to root for, the United States is simply not as interested in this year’s competition as they were in 2014. Bloomberg has reported that the number of American viewers watching the games has fallen by 44%. In 2014, the games averaged about 3.55 million viewers, and this year its around 1.98 million.
Fox and NBCUniversal’s Telemundo, who together paid more than $1 billion, for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, were somewhat expecting this decline. After the announcement in October that the US would not be competing, Fox lowered the audience it guaranteed advertisers as much as 20%. In order to still prompt excitement for the games, these networks focused their attention on Mexico’s appearance in the competition, hoping to gain viewership from bilingual fans. This found success as Telemundo’s most watched game, with 6.6 million viewers, was Mexico vs. Germany on June 29.
Despite the lack of World Cup interest in the United States, other countries all over the world are bringing in record-setting viewer numbers. 19.9 million people tuned into BBC to watch England beat Sweden to advance to the semi-final game. Those numbers only reflect people watching in their living room, not taking into account the hundreds of people that gathered at pubs to watch the game. When these fans are taken into account, the total number of people that watched that game, jumps closer to 30 million people.
Whether the number of viewers watching in respective countries is higher or lower than the competition four years ago, media analysts are focusing on the number of fans tuning in on their mobile device or streaming. BBC has reported that their online platform has had more than 31.2 million people watch the group match round. This is shocking when compared to the 32 million viewers who used an online platform throughout all of the 2014 tournament in Brazil. It is clear that the shift in favor of cable cutting is affecting all areas of television, even one of the most-watched global events.
More and more people are shifting away from cable, but still finding ways to tune into the games. Streaming, online or mobile, or choosing to watch the games at a pub or bar is making it trickier to track the specific number of viewers so far in the tournament. However, it gives advertisers more ways to reach consumers. In MediaMath’s World Cup Infographic, they outlined trends to watch during the tournament. Some of the best ways to reach fans were on streaming sites such as espn.com and sites where people can easily check scores, such as skyscore.com. We will have to wait until a final winner is decided and the games conclude, to see how the numbers from this year’s tournament compare to 2014 – who’s final match alone had 1.013 billion viewers. But for now, as media consumption trends change, advertisers need to stay up to date on the plethora of ways to reach fans, beyond cable television.
Digilant’s FIFA 2018 Digital Advertising Infographic covers who the consumers are, social media trends, how the content is consumed and by who, and more!
Download the full infographic here and don’t forget to share #DigilantData.
Interested in learning more about the impact on retail during the World Cup? Check out Part 4 of our FIFA World Cup 2018 Infographic series here.