The 2010 World Cup: A Final Look

Some last thoughts on the World Cup.  24 million viewers watched the 2010 World Cup Final on ABC and Univision, the biggest ever US audience for a soccer match.  Worldwide, more than 700 million people watched the game, making it the most watched match in history.  Ratings were consistently outstanding with more than 19 million watching the US Ghana match and ratings consistently above expectations.

American soccer fans are of course interested in the impact of the ratings success on MLS.  The Sports Business Journal is quoting Commissioner  Garber’s thoughts.  “We’re certainly not looking at the World Cup as having an immediate impact on our business metrics,” Garber said. “What we are looking forward to is a growing interest in the sport, a further breaking through to the general sports market and fertile environment to create business opportunities on and off the field.” The SBJ also quotes executives from ESPN and FSC about their efforts to capitalize on the World Cup and their tempered expectations for increased viewers.

SBJ also has an excellent piece on the sponsorships coming out of the World Cup.  Some interesting tidbits include Coca Cola’s expectation that its sales will increase 5% because of its investment in the tournament and Adidas revised its projected revenue in the soccer category upward to $1.6 billion in the soccer category with more than 6 million jerseys and 13 million Jabulanis to be sold.

We will put out our post World cup survey soon, but the World Cup was certainly a success from almost every conceivable business perspective.  Eyeballs were tuned to matches in enormous numbers whether on television, computers or phones.  Sponsors got great exposure, while bars and restaurants were able to draw huge crowds at off hours to watch games from around South Africa.  Apparel sales and merchandise were outstanding and soccer gained another foothold on the American sports landscape.

Soccer Business Bits: NY Times Signs a Deal, Graphing the Cup

The New York Times announced a deal with California based Match Analysis to provide real time, data and statistics from the 2010 World Cup.  While the timing of the deal seems strange, the arrangement will give the Tiems access to a continuous stream of match and player data.  Match Analysis assigns five analysts to each game and then creates a library of real time and stored information.  According to the official press release, Match Analysis has worked with all current MLS franchises and a number of national teams.

British website Knowyourmoney.co.uk has produced an interesting graph looking at the economics of the World Cup.  The graph looks at the cost of stadium improvements and the investment of sponsors in the tournament.  Some notable numbers include the amount of investment of the different levels of corporate sponsors and partners and the $1.6 billion total sponsorship revenue generated by the tournament. The graph further indicates that the total cost of the Cup is $3.5 billion.

Finally, we recommend checking out this recent piece from Time Magazine on the television ratings at the World Cup.  The article looks at the impact of the World Cup’s recent popularity on MLS and soccer in the United States.

World Cup: By the Numbers

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting theory the 2010 World Cup is grabbing a large portion of the American sports pie.  Americans are discussing the World Cup around the office, media outlets are carrying increasing coverage and bars are filling at odd hours nationwide for matches involving all teams.  The ratings complete the story.

We reported earlier on the numbers from the early parts of the tournament.  The opening game of the 2010 World Cup (played before breakfast on the West Coast), averaged 5.4 million viewers on Univision and 2.6 million on ESPN. The Univision broadcast was the number 1 program of the day in more than five US Cities.  The USA/England game on ABC averaged just under 13 million viewers and was the fifth most watched soccer match in ABC history.  For purposes of comparison, game 4 of the NBA finals on ABC achieved an estimated 16 million viewers on Thursday night, making it far and away the most highly viewed show of the week.  Neither number factors in “mass audiences” .

The ratings have continued, with Reuters reporting that through the first 14 matches of the World Cup, ESPN and ABC have delivered an average crowd of 3.35 million viewers, marking a 64% increase from the same period in 2006, when the networks drew 2.9 million fans.  Univision has shown similar success across all platforms, with Reuters further reporting that through June 15 Univision.Futbol.com had tracked 6 million visits in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, double its 2006 traffic. The site averaged 250,000 unique viewers during live matches, peaking with 130,000 concurrent users during the Brazil-North Korea match.

Excellent ratings have continued during weekday games, with almost 4 million viewers watching the USA/Slovenia match on Friday morning. The broadcast shattered records for ESPNradio.com and ESPN3.com. with almost 1 million viewers spending more than 45 minutes on the site during the early broadcast.

These numbers are excellent and promise to increase as the tournament moves forward.  A USA run through the tournament would significantly increase ratings and ESPN is likely salivating at the possibility of a USA weekend match should the Americans qualify for the round of 16.  Regardless, ESPN will expect great ratings as the tournament moves into the final stages.

World Cup in South Africa: Monitoring the Coverage

The opening game of the 2010 World Cup (played before breakfast on the West Coast), averaged 5.4 million viewers on Univision and 2.6 million on ESPN. The Univision broadcast was the number 1 program of the day in more than five US Cities.  The USA/England game on ABC averaged just under 13 million viewers and was the fifth most watched soccer match in ABC history.  For purposes of comparison, game 4 of the NBA finals on ABC achieved an estimated 16 million viewers on Thursday night, making it far and away the most highly viewed show of the week.  Neither number factors in “mass audiences” .

We have found the ESPN coverage to be outstanding.  Chris Fowler and Bob Ley have turned in outstanding studio host performances throughout the coverage.  The array of players and coaches manning the studios have provided solid insight.  The ESPN team did suffer an embarrassing performance during the opening match when neither broadcaster showed an accurate understanding of the properly disallowed Mexican goal in the first half.  Both broadcasters (including the usally excellent Martin Tyler) lambasted the referees for what was a correct call.

Mainstream media of the Cup has been impressive, with local outlets providing coverage of both the USA/England match and the turnout at local bars and clubs.  Major outlets such as CNNSI and USA Today have continued to provide throrough coverage including analysis of footaball write Peter King (which we have found very well done).  His excellent column is right here.  Newspapers from around the country have ramped out their coverage of the matches using a solid combination of wire reports and local coverage.