World cup telecasts viewed by 93m per game

The total aggregate live television audience for the FIFA World Cup 2006's 64 matches is expected to be 5.9 billion people, or 93 million people per game globally, according to Initiative Futures, a global media agency which collates data from every major market in the world. These figures are "program average audiences", meaning the average number of people who watched each game from pre-match build-up to post-match dissection. "Using a rough rule of thumb, the peak audience for any given game will be one and a half times the program average. Unlike football's world governing body, FIFA, which last week claimed that aggregate TV audiences for Germany 2006 would be 30 billion, Initiative uses only data from the official TV measurement supplier in each country, such as Barb in the UK. Neither do Initiative's figures include ratings of delayed footage, replays, highlights, news clips or out-of-home viewing ... FIFA includes the whole lot, without much detailed breakdown," Nick Harris reported in The Independent (UK).

The best-watched match up to the end of the second round was Brazil's group game with Croatia (160 million people, or 240 million peak), followed by Brazil v Australia (144 million), then Spain v France in the second round (137 million) and Japan v Brazil (131 million). No England games made the top 10.

The opener between Germany and Costa Rica attracted 30 per cent more viewers in six major Indian cities (where accurate meter data is available) than India's cricket tour to the West Indies at the same time. Australia's match against Brazil drew a non-prime time record average of 1.53 million viewers in Australia, peaking at 1.73 million at 3.46am. Women watched in growing numbers, especially in the UK, where 47 percent watching England v Sweden were women, a record in that country for football.

Viewers in America tuned in, with 10 million watching USA v Italy. (Mexico v USA in 2002 attracted seven million people). Argentina versus Mexico, in the second round, drew 6.7 million viewers on Univision, making it the most-watched sports event in the history of Spanish-language TV in the USA.

Top 10 most watched matches*

1 Brazil v Croatia 160m
2 Brazil v Australia 144m
3 Spain v France 137m
4 Japan v Brazil 131m
5= Germany v C Rica 128m
5= Brazil v Ghana 128m
7 Portugal v Neth'lands 122m
8 Argentina v Mexico 121m
9 Japan v Croatia 117m
10 Germany v Poland 114m

*Up to and including second round

See also: World Cup television audiences smash records (28 June)