The tournament as a whole is expected to achieve record global viewership for one sporting event, rising by five per cent on 2006. “This reflects the unstoppable rise in the popularity of football,” Alavy says.
Initiative consider “in home” viewing only, and measure “average” audience, which is those who watch a programme in its entirety, and “reach”, which is those who watch at least a part.
The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was the most-watched event in human history, with an average TV audience of 593m and a reach of 984m. With “out of home” viewing, it became the first “genuine 1bn” spectator event.
Alavy recently revised this 2006 figure slightly upwards (the reach was previously 609m) owing to new technologies allowing more accurate retrospective numbers. And yet he still expects the 2010 event to be up five per cent up on the last World Cup.
Alavy forecasts that 2010 World Cup matches will see average audiences of around 125m people per match; or in terms that will shock most American TV viewers, 64 Super Bowl-size TV audiences inside a single month.
“No other media property delivers the same spikes in audience delivery, day-after-day, sustained over a month as the Fifa World Cup,” says Alavy. “In that sense, the World Cup can be described as the largest shared experience in the world – with all the communications implications and benefits that brings.”
As for the final, Alavy thinks the average audience will probably be between 330m and 350m people, perhaps higher. “But there can be a significantly different figure, depending who is in that final, of course,” he says.
The biggest numbers of all would be delivered, he says, if Brazil met England, a match-up only feasible if one or other fails to top their group and yet both go undefeated thereafter until the final.
Shakira – Waka Waka “This Time for Africa” Fifa World Cup South Africa 2010 Video.