Nobody can miss the fact that the World Cup is on but this World Cup differs from previous ones. There are more people watching than ever before, with record highs in several countries, for example Brazil where 47.4 million people tuned in to watch their opening match. Similarly 34.1 million people in Japan watched their match with the Ivory Coast. And people are not only tuning in to this World Cup through there TV set, they are also turning to digital sources; whether that is by phone, tablet or laptop.
Millions of people are changing the way they watch TV, moving away from the TV set to online, be that for interaction or viewing. There are recommendations from Arab News, Forbes, India Express, The Telegraph and other papers around the world on what the best apps are for the World Cup and most of these are streaming the matches, further driving this trend. Subsequently they are being downloaded in their millions. Take for example the ESPN app, which had 2.6 million downloads in the first two weeks of the World Cup.
Does this mean that people are turning to streaming in preference to terrestrial TV?
No, not yet. Of the 24.7 million Americans that watched the USA v Germany match only 3.2 million of those were watching through the ESPN app, so the vast majority are still watching through a TV set. We are sure this will play out across other countries around the world. But the flexibility of watching a streamed match through an app on a laptop or mobile device, we believe, will grow and maybe by the next World Cup it may even be the norm.
One thing that is certain is that this World Cup is about sharing, especially on social media. There were eight million tweets (source: Twitter) during the USA v Germany match and a staggering 2 million tweets thanking the American goalie Tim Howard for his 15 saves during their final match with Belgium.
But it is not only fans that are using these mediums, it is also big brands. Within minutes of Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini brands were advertising on Twitter. One of our favourites is this Snickers one.
The Independent have a few more examples. It is not only Twitter that is enjoying increased coverage, so is Facebook and YouTube. Facebook have recorded 1 billion interactions (posts, likes and comments) on the site, making the World Cup the largest event in Facebook history.
But is this the same for countries that are not as digitally developed?
The same trends can be seen but obviously not in such high numbers. Take the host nation Brazil; a recent survey by eMarketer found that although most Brazilians will be watching the World Cup on a TV set (86.7%), 31% of them will go online to keep up to date with news articles, live text and commentaries. Also 26.7% will watch the match via live streaming on their laptop, the same amount as those that will actually attend live games! And the trend of sharing on social media also applies with 15.8% following on Social Media.
The major difference is with mobile. With only 34.5% of the Brazilian population planning on using a mobile device to connect to the internet in 2014, the statistics for watching on a mobile device are therefore much lower. We are sure these findings will ring true through other developing nations around the world.
Ultimately the World Cup is bringing people together to support their country and team and share that experience with others. The 2014 World Cup has succeeded in this with record highs in viewing numbers and Social Media interaction. And this in turn is leading to a gradual shift in how people watch sporting events. One thing seems certain, by the next World Cup watching streamed matches will be just as popular as watching on a TV set.