World Cup: Most Watched Event in History

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The 2010 FIFA World Cup may be over, but the results of how sports fans viewed the video from the tournament’s numerous games are just coming in.

With an estimated worldwide viewership of 1.5 billion, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will likely be the world’s largest sports broadcast in history.

France-based HBS (Host Broadcast Services), has been the exclusive host broadcaster for this event since 1998. The company was created with the specific task of producing the television and radio feeds for the FIFA World Cups.

Media Rights Licensees (such as ESPN) have a choice of feeds. They can set up their own production at the venue, take feeds at the centralized International Broadcast Center (IBC), which makes all the feeds and clips available immediately by a large media server, or just taking the finished show feed. Many national broadcasters have their own production facilities at the venues. They can take the clean feed from the production switcher to add their own graphics plus ISO feeds of the cameras, so they can feature their home team.

ESPN estimated that 132 million people consumed World Cup related content across all ESPN platforms—that’s more than two out of five Americans. Of that total 132 million people, 90% watched TV, 27% used the Internet, 11% listened to Radio, 7% used mobile and 2% read ESPN The Magazine. ESPN networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2) averaged a 1.9 U.S. rating, up 36% from 2006.

Sunday’s championship game drew 24.3 million viewers across ABC and Univision, making it the most-watched soccer match ever in the U.S. More than 7.4 million unique viewers watched World Cup games on In total, they watched more than 15.7 million hours of game video on the site. Their FIFA World Cup App was downloaded more than 2.5 million times. On average, one million people accessed it each day during the tournament. Its Mobile TV offering had nearly one million unique users who watched more than 2 million hours of coverage in total.

ESPN estimates that out-of-home viewing and usage of non-TV platforms added 47 percent to ESPN’s daily World Cup TV average audience. ESPN spent $100 million for the broadcast rights for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Soccer fan visits on was highlighted by the USA vs. Algeria game on June 23, which resulted in the largest U.S. audience ever for a single sporting event on the Web. ESPNSoccernet received more visits than any other day in its history and ESPN Mobile had the most-trafficked day to-date for World Cup content.

ESPN’s World Cup App has been downloaded more than 2.5 million times and averaged over 1.1 million unique devices accessing the app per day. Polar Mobile’s WC2010 app at BlackBerry App World was one of the most popular Apps for BlackBerry phones.

Allot reports that mobile broadband usage increased by 24% during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Web browsing on mobile broadband experienced the sharpest growth with a 35% rise, while YouTube traffic rose significantly by 32% on post-match mornings.

World Cup content on delivered 87.5 million visits and 305.9 million page views from June 11-27. The 3D World Cup coverage was carried in the U.S. on ESPN’s new 3D network, and Sony will also be making a 3D film of the event that will be distributed on Blu-ray disc. NEP says 3D trucks cost 2.5 to 3 times more than 2-D HD trucks.

The 3D capture end was a massive undertaking, but the transmission side was just as challenging. Two discrete left-eye/right-eye 720p 16×9 feeds ran into NEP’s SS31 3D production truck. Both fed into a Miranda Imagestore processor, which inserted YES 3D branding graphics and a SENSIO encoder which takes the 720p left and right-eye signals and merges them into a 720p side-by-side picture. The newly merged signal is then sent through a Harris NetVX encoder to the uplink and the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network (YES) among other venues.

The Japanese proposed to host the 2022 World Cup with a holographic broadcast. It would capture all 360 degrees of World Cup matches using up-to 200 HD cameras, then the footage would be projected, creating life like full 3D images on genuine football fields the world over.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Sunday, July 11th, 2010 at 2:58 pm .

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