As a truly global game, football is played and followed worldwide like no other sport. Although the 2022 World Cup in Qatar raised controversies, hundreds of millions of football fans still tuned in once the matches started. With such an impressive fan base, it’s no wonder that the FIFA World Cup has the biggest global reach of all sporting events.
According to data presented by Sports Lens, FIFA World Cup`s global reach of 3.56 billion viewers beats even Super Bowl and the Olympics.
Average TV Viewership Almost 30% Higher than Super Bowl`s
While Super Bowl is the biggest sporting spectacle in the world, combining sports and entertainment like any other event, FIFA World Cup is undoubtedly the most followed competition, and viewership figures confirm that.
According to FIFA, the average live TV audience for the 64 matches at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was 191 million. That is almost 30% more than estimates for the 2022 Super Bowl’s TV viewership, which was under 100 million in the United States, plus an estimated 30 to 50 million on the international level.
The 2018 World Cup finals, showing the clash between France and Croatia, drew an average TV audience of 517 million people, while the live coverage of the match reached more than a mind-blowing billion people worldwide.
Statistics show the overall reach of the World Cup even beats the Olympics. According to FIFA estimates, around 3.56 billion people worldwide watched at least one minute of 2018 World Cup coverage on linear TV or across digital channels. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics had a global reach of 3.05 billion viewers, and the Beijing 2022 Winter Games over 2 billion.
55% of the World`s Population to Watch the World Cup in Qatar
The FIFA data show previous World Cups, including Brazil 2014 and South Africa 2010 reached similar viewership numbers, meaning that Russia 2018 was no outlier.
Regarding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, viewership figures will probably be just as impressive. According to a recent Ipsos survey, around 55% of people worldwide plan to watch any match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on any device. The United Arab Emirates had the highest share out of any country surveyed, with 81% of the population who planned to watch the matches. Indonesia, Argentina, and Peru followed, with 80%, 79%, and 78% share, respectively.
Europe`s leading football nations were far below these figures. The United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy had around 55% of sports fans planning to watch the World Cup matches, more than 46% in Germany and 39% in France. The United States and Canada were the countries with the lowest intention of watching the tournament, with only 24% of adults planning to watch the matches.