World Cup flexes TV’s global muscles

One of the reasons why Thinkbox works closely with our cousins in TV around the world is companies. They often try to do so with audience figures, bandying global figures around, which, at first glance, look impressive. TV rarely thinks globally and almost never acts globally.

A good example of this was when Felix Baumgartner downed a can of Red Bull and leapt from space. It was famously streamed live on YouTube and watched simultaneously by 8 million people globally. Globally. The media collectively downed a can of Kool Aid and heralded it as a turning point in the way we consume content.

It was ridiculous. We had reports comparing the 8 million YouTube streams to UK TV show audiences, completely forgetting that this was comparing global with national figures. Egta – the trade body for European TV (and radio) sales houses – looked at how many people watched it live on TV. They got as far as 60 million after looking at some of Europe and stopped counting.

So it is important that telly flexes its global muscles when it can and the World Cup is the perfect showcase – even if it isn’t exactly the perfect showcase of English football’s prowess.

The final could well reach a global audience of a billion. And let’s get this into context. That is not the reported 1 billion+ Facebook users that have opened an account or the Gangnam Style video which took two years to reach two billion views on YouTube. This is a billion individuals watching the same thing at the same time.

But we’re not at the final yet, so here – to put the global joy of the World Cup on TV in perspective – are some figures collated from around the world showing how beautifully it has gone so far:

  • 11.5 million Dutch viewers (88.4%) watched their national team’s victory over Chile: 10.2 million at home and 1.3 million in public places.
  • A record number of 42.9 million Brazilians tuned in to see their team’s win over Croatia. 81.3% of Croatians watched the game (1.5 million).
  • The Belgium – South Korea game was the most watched football game in the history of Belgian television, reaching 3 million Flemish fans (82.8% of TV viewers) and 2.1 million of French speaking Belgians (82.1%).
  • A peak of 20 million (71% share) watched England v Uruguay in the UK, the highest peak audience on any channel since the 2012 London Olympics.
  • 27.3 million (84.2%) viewers in Germany tuned in to watch Germany defeat the US.
  • 15.3 million Italians (82%) watched the game between England and Italy.
  • Greek viewership peaked at 81.3% audience share for Greece’s win over Ivory Coast.
  • 68.5% of Spanish viewers (11.2 million) caught the game in which their national team was defeated by Holland.
  • The French victory over Honduras scored 56.3% audience share in France or 15.9 million viewers, amongst whom 1 million saw the game on digital platforms
  • Even in countries such as Sweden, where the national team didn’t qualify, 2.64 million viewers (48% audience share) watched Brazil-Mexico.
  • The US’s first game drew more than 11 million viewers – the highest-rated football match ever shown on ESPN – and nearly 5 million on a Spanish-language network.
  • The 8am start of Australia’s match against Chile still didn’t discourage 2.3 million Australians from watching the game.
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