World Cup viewing grows in the US
Gabriel Miramar-Garcia | 17 June 2014
The World Cup is slowly winning the hearts and minds of the one nation that has historically failed to embrace the beautiful game: according to a Washington Post-ABC poll, 28% of Americans said that they plan to watch World Cup games this summer.
This bodes well for viewing statistics: in the United States, 94.5 million people (about 31% of the population) watched at least 20 consecutive minutes of the last World Cup, an increase of 19% over the 2006 World Cup in Germany, according to the Pew Research Centre.
That said, in the Post survey, more Americans called soccer as a sport "a big bore" (28%) than said that it's "exciting" (19%).
In a Pew Research survey conducted in January, 22% of Americans said they were "especially looking forward to" the World Cup, nearly the same share as when asked about the 2010 World Cup in January of that year (23%). But no other event mentioned in the 2014 survey found fewer people anticipating the event.
That same study also revealed a few interesting global findings. For instance world will be watching Brazil – both for this summer's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics – but Brazilians are sceptical about whether the world will see Brazil in a positive light. About a third (35%) of Brazilians said the World Cup will help their country's international image, while roughly four out of ten (39%) said it will hurt Brazil's image, according to a survey conducted in April.
World Cup viewing is expected to surpass previous records, according to Pew Research.
"Of all the numbers associated with the event – 32 teams, 64 matches, 736 players, each team's odds of winning – some of the biggest (with the exception of the World Cup's reported $11.5 billion price tag) are the numbers of people who will be watching," the group said.
About 3.2 billion people around the world (roughly 46% of the global population) watched at least a minute of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa on TV in their homes, according to a report produced for FIFA by the British firm KantarSport. Nearly one billion people (909.6 million) tuned in for at least a minute of the 2010 World Cup final, in which Spain defeated the Netherlands, a similar viewership number to the London Olympics' opening ceremonies.