An astonishing 46.6% of the global population tuned into the 2010 World Cup for at least a minute, according to new research released by the sport’s governing body, FIFA.

An astonishing 46.6% of the global population tuned into the 2010 World Cup for at least a minute, according to new research released by the sport’s governing body, FIFA.

And this with a television audience for South Africa’s football festival recorded in every country and territory – including Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.

Almost a third of the world – 2.2 billion people – watched at least 20 minutes of continual coverage of the exalted football tournament, representing a 3% rise in the global TV audience for the event which was last held in 2006 in Germany.

The data, collected by KantarSport, shows the average in-home global audience for each match was 188.4 million - a rise of 6% on 2006 – while the final between Spain and the Netherlands attracted an average of 530.9 million TV viewers, up 5% on the numbers who watched the culmination of the 2006 World Cup.

When expanded to include both those viewers at home who watched over a minute of the 2010 World Cup final, and those who watched it elsewhere - at public viewing areas, bars, restaurants, in hotels, or online or via mobile TV - the figure is likely to have reached a whopping one billion.

“When you consider the increasingly fragmented media environment, where people face ever more choice in terms of the platform, place and time of their viewing selection, these results show that the FIFA World Cup remains a compelling spectacle for viewers around the world,” said Jérôme Valcke, FIFA Secretary General.

“The FIFA World Cup was shown in every single country and territory on Earth and with an unprecedented level of TV production geared to serve screens of all shapes and sizes, it was also the first major sports event to be distributed globally across all platforms, namely TV, radio, mobile, broadband as well as in 3D.”

Television viewing figures for the 2010 World Cup reached unprecedented levels in the host nation of South Africa when the national team met Uruguay: a match which attracted an average home TV audience of 10.15 million. Another record was set during the Germany versus Spain semi-final, which drew an average of over 31 million in-home viewers in Germany alone – a million more than any previous television event had ever attracted in the football-loving country.