Qatar World Cup: results and conclusions of the broadcasting performance
The Qatar World Cup ended a month ago and became one of the most discussed. On the one hand, every Football World Cup overshadows almost all news, especially sports ones; on the other hand — so many scandals and political issues happen during the tournament not so often. In this regard, Qatar has been ahead of the rest.
We won’t recap scandals, even the most outrageous — you don’t shake your fist when the fight is over. It is much more interesting and timely to analyze not the behavior of the organizers or athletes, but viewers — how did they watch games, how did support teams, how did they discuss? These conclusions will be used during all sports events for the next two years until the preparations to the next one will have been started, but again — it will be based on the Qatar experience.
Number of viewers around the world
According to FIFA, almost all countries broadcasting the World Cup, claimed audience growth if compared to 2018. So, 1.5 billion viewers watched it.
144 countries broadcasted the tournament
197 TV channels and digital platforms got broadcast or streaming rights
In France, the primary records happened on the final game — its TV audience at its peak included 29.4 m of viewers. During the World Cup 2018 in Russia, the highest number of the audience was 22.3 m, despite the French team having a part in the final and even winning.
Regardless of the national team’s failure, the audience’s peak in England also happened during the final. 58 % of viewers watched the match on TV, the rest of them — via iPlayers or on the BBC Sport website.
Since 2018, analytics have measured viewers with personal devices and the audience watching games in public spaces — in bars, clubs, or at special public screenings.
beIN SPORTS describes its records in MENA using too stunning numbers, but it seems so because they show the number of views not of separate matches but of the whole tournament. It turned out that the World Cup gathered 5.4 Billion views on platforms beIN in the Middle East and North Africa, also official beIn accounts on social media, where matches were streamed, gathered 1.1 billion views. The number of views increased to 135 % compared to the previous world cup.
In Russia, this championship was watched by many more people than the last one, which was hosted by the country itself. The Final was viewed on-air TV by 18 m viewers; in total, all matches were watched by 41.7m. Another several million watched games on digital platforms. The final was the most popular event in the whole history of the broadcasting channel.
In the USA, Fox broadcasted the tournament, and the most popular match was also the final — on linear TV and streaming services. Spanish-speaking coverage by media giant NBC on Peacock and Telemundo platforms gathered a 9 m people audience. This number turned Argentina’s winning into the most-watched game and showed a rise of 65 $ compared to the previous final in 2018.
In Brazil, the championship was free on the streaming platform FIFA+, and the number of viewers tripled this year compared to 2018. But here, we should remember that FIFA+ is a relatively new platform, and outraged growth could be caused by regularly moving viewers from on-air TV to inline streaming, especially when this streaming is free.
It’s a rare case, but in a few countries, the number of viewers decreased. In Germany, e.g., ARD company broadcasted the World Cup, and their systems recorded the average audience was around 13.9 m, which is 6 m viewers less than the last championship (at that time, ZDF broadcasted games).
Success and unsuccess of social media
Of course, users got used to sharing their emotions on social media, and all platforms got a significant influx of fans. Some platforms prepared for that, partnering with FIFA — like TikTok, which was running FIFA+ World Cup Search Hub. As a result, The #FIFAWorldCup hashtag got 25+ billion views in-app, and FIFA’s account doubled the number of followers.
The most popular (for now) social media platform, Twitter, has already released the report with World Cup’s results, and it turned out that there were 147 billion active conversations during the tournament, which is twice more than during the Tokyo Olympics. Most tweets were about the Argentine national team, which is more than about Brazil. However, Brazilians tweeted more than other nations. FIFA’s accounts on Twitter gathered an average of 2 m likes a day and 226 % more impressions than in 2018.
Not a social network, of course, but still on topic about Twitter: Google shared notification — the final showed record traffic for 25 years.
What about Meta? The company hasn’t yet released any reports after the tournament, although both athletes and fans used their products during the championship, especially Instagram. It is easy to find out that Messi’s triumphant photo with the cup got 75 m likes, and the number of Ronaldo subscribers achieved 539 m. But much more interesting would be to learn how Meta managed the toxic behavior on the platforms; after all, they had claimed the elaboration of the new moderation system since Euro 2020 final.
These reports will probably be released later (however, Championship 2018 results were shown a day after the final) and elaborate on how Meta achieved its goal of creating safe and free-speech spaces on the platforms and how effective it was. Meta’s text in its official blog, published several days before the World Cup started, only offered familiar protection systems and recommendations. But the final and following racist flood against French players showed that Meta’s ways didn’t work, again. More than that, the situation repeats precisely the case with English players after penalties in the Euro 2020 final in April 2021. Meta, accumulating billions of users on its social media platforms, sometimes doesn’t understand what it should do with all of these people.
What conclusions we can make
Football still is the king of sports. No sports event doesn’t gather so much attention and views worldwide as the World Cup. Also, the football tournament beats its records, becoming more popular with each new round.
When fans watch the tournament, they can follow not only their national team. Yes, Brazil tweeted more than anybody, generally about their players who lost in the quarter-final. Still, the final gathered the highest number of views in France and Argentina and almost in any country.
Although most fans still watch games on free TV (81% of people who were surveyed by Neilsen company, picked linear TV as one of their way to watch sports), but more than a half of these respondents already started to use digital platforms — 72%, and 62% are agree to pay for viewing.
Users want to discuss games and share emotions (once more, pay attention to the number of likes and tweets), but Facebook, neither Instagram nor Twitter, cannot provide a safe space for discussion.
Users want to show each other the best moments — highlights, to show some real moments — what’s going on on the field. Here is the cause for interest in short clips, which users send to friends — to discuss something real, not only a fact or a piece of news.
It tells that the football audience only increases, but problems in building the sports community are also scaled. Here is the challenge of keeping an audience on the platform with the broadcasted or streamed event and avoiding toxic and hostile behavior during communication on social media.