2006 FIFA World Cup broke broadcasting records

Television coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup was the most extensive to date with 376 channels showing the event compared to 232 in 2002. What is more, the 2006 event was aired in a total 43,600 broadcasts across 214 countries and territories in 2006, generating total coverage of 73,072 hours – an increase of 76 percent on the 2002 event (41,435 hours) and a 148 percent increase on 1998. This means that if all the 2006 coverage were shown on just one channel, it would take over eight years to broadcast non-stop. The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany had a total cumulative television audience of 26.29 billion (24.2 billion in-home and 2.1 billion out-of-home viewers). This is on a par with the 1998 event, which like 2006 was also staged in Europe, but a little below the 26.4 billion in-home viewers noted for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan. Unsurprisingly, the most-watched match was the final Italy v France (result: 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw) with a global cumulative audience of 715.1 million viewers.

This 2006 report was commissioned by FIFA's television partner, Infront Sports & Media, and compiled by Sponsorship Intelligence, a subsidiary of Publicis Group. It confirms the competition’s status as the world’s most popular event that has sustained robust worldwide viewing levels at a time when most programme genres are suffering a downturn in market share. FIFA has adopted a more rigorous approach as regards the compilation of TV figures and this report is consequently based on more audited data than ever before.

Asia was once again the region to contribute the highest share of television audience with its 8.28 billion in-home viewers accounting for 32.2% of the global total. However, the total cumulative audience fell by 25.7 percent in 2006. This decline in viewer numbers is not surprising when viewed in the correct context. The 2002 event was staged in two Asian territories (Japan and South Korea) and kick-off times for live matches were consequently during prime viewing hours across most of the region whereas live matches in 2006 were shown mostly after midnight. Secondly, China – which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the total global audience -- qualified for the finals for a historic first time in 2002 but failed to qualify in 2006.

These circumstances explain the nine percent fall in the global cumulative audience in 2006. By contrast Europe -- where the matches were broadcast during prime time viewing -- registered a 29.6% increase in viewers over 2002. While this undoubtedly reflects the more accessible timing of matches for the European audience compared to 2002, it nevertheless confirms the unparalleled stature of the event in this highly developed and media-saturated region.

The United States produced some very encouraging scores that underline football’s growing popularity in the country. The cumulative audience jumped 38.9% over 2002, coverage surged 221% to 1,889 hours and the number of broadcasters doubled to 13 in 2006. Univision’s broadcast of Argentina v Mexico was the most-viewed sports telecast in the history of U.S. Spanish-language television with 6.7 million viewers.

• TV coverage in 214 countries and territories produced 43,600 dedicated television broadcasts and generated over 73,000 hours of dedicated programming, a significant 76.4% increase over 2002.
• An increasingly fragmented TV market saw 2006 World Cup broadcasts on 376 channels, a vast increase over the 232 broadcasting channels in 2002.
• A cumulative audience, in-home and out-of-home, of 26.29 billion viewers with Asia contributing the highest share, with its 8.28 billion in-home viewers representing 34.2% of the global total. The largest single market contributor was China, which accounted for 3.98 billion viewers, followed by Brazil, Vietnam and Germany.
• Total hours of 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage increased over 2002 in all regions, most significantly across Africa, Oceania, Asia and Europe.

Infront Sports & Media was exclusively responsible for the worldwide marketing and sales of the broadcast rights to the 2006 FIFA World Cup and also handled the host broadcast. The group has delivered the most varied and extensive coverage in the history of the event. Infront has achieved these record results through “layering” different television offerings for the various markets worldwide. Distribution was handled on an open-market basis, offering viewers unprecedented variety and choice.