FIFA World Cup 2022 to Be a Magnet for Emerging Soccer Fanbases in U.S., India, and China
Altman Solon’s survey reveals scope of global fan interest in the FIFA World Cup 2022, with growth opportunities in emerging markets and streaming.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be appointment viewing for more than half the world’s population, uniting fans worldwide despite the challenges of broadcasting across disparate time zones. Predictions of record-breaking global viewership of up to 5 billion people would shatter the 2018 event’s 3.6 billion viewers and support the multi-billion-dollar broadcast rights’ investments of broadcasters. Altman Solon’s 2022 Global Sports Survey, which measured 17,000 respondents across 17 countries, reveals new data on the FIFA World Cup’s popularity and how the event will attract fans outside of the historically soccer-mad markets of Europe and Latin America.
Sports fans worldwide will be tuning in
World Cup interest
% of monthly sports viewers in each country that are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in the World Cup
In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, the FIFA World Cup is a unicorn – a truly global, monocultural event with more than half the world watching. It promises broadcasting rights holders the ability to reach mass audiences and entice global brands as advertisers. While soccer’s most ardent supporters and top teams are found in Europe and Latin America, the FIFA World Cup captures the interest of sports enthusiasts worldwide, with roughly half of global sports viewers very interested in the Doha games. Soccer fandom and interest in the FIFA World Cup is on the rise in the U.S., a market historically less interested in soccer, where nearly one-third of American sports viewers report being ‘very interested’ in the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Not participating? Not a problem!
Soccer popularity and interest in World Cup
% of monthly sports viewers in each country
The reach of the World Cup extends beyond countries with strong soccer fandoms and national teams. Although interest in the World Cup correlates with a country’s interest in soccer, there are notable exceptions. Sports fans in China and India have an outsized enthusiasm for the World Cup, with 64% of Chinese sports viewers and 82% of Indian sports viewers interested in the games. Savvy sponsors, like Adidas in India, have tapped into the excitement through a major FIFA World Cup campaign starring Bollywood icon Ranveer Singh.
It appears participating in the games does not have a significant effect on fan enthusiasm, as can be seen in Colombia, a non-participating country with 89% interest in watching the games. Advertisers and broadcasters should not discount markets where the national team will not be playing. For leagues and FIFA, the World Cup is a key moment to capture growing fandom outside the traditional strongholds of Europe and Latin America.
Frequency of viewing: UAE, Latin America and Europe lead the way
World Cup watch frequency
% of monthly sports viewers in each country
While there is worldwide enthusiasm for the FIFA World Cup, viewing habits vary by country. The most passionate fans are in Latin America, with the highest number of sports fans saying they will watch every game, followed by European countries. Qatar’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, had the highest levels of interest with 55% of sports fans planning to watch every game. Americans, by contrast, are expected to watch the fewest matches, with 37% of U.S. sports fans not planning to watch any of the games. This shouldn’t be surprising as the FIFA World Cup will take place during peak NFL season and despite soccer’s growing popularity, American Football remains the most popular sport in the U.S. While there have been threats of boycotts based on the location of the games, the survey points to strong viewing interest among global sports fans.
Over a quarter of U.S. sports fans would pay for FIFA World Cup coverage
World Cup willingness to pay
% of monthly sports viewers in each country “very likely” or “likely” to pay
Despite lower planned viewing frequency, 26% of U.S. sports viewers would be willing to pay to watch FIFA World Cup coverage, more than almost every European country surveyed. European fans’ lower willingness to pay is due in part to matches being traditionally broadcast on free TV throughout the continent. In the U.S., networks that have acquired soccer media rights – notably the $1 billion spent by Fox Sports and Telemundo for FIFA rights and NBC Universal’s long-term deal with the English Premier League – are betting on a growing, passionate fanbase that considers soccer appointment viewing and is willing to pay for it.
What is more, respondents in the U.S. would pay the highest price point for full live coverage of all FIFA World Cup games, with an optimal price point at $29, well above price points in Latin America, where the cost of living is lower. While the FIFA World Cup may never replace major U.S. sporting events like the Super Bowl or World Series in terms of U.S. domestic audience size, soccer leagues should invest in growing interest in soccer and soccer tournaments. Likewise, the high price points that U.S. sports fans are willing to pay for FIFA World Cup content suggest an attractive audience that can be very lucrative for advertisers and corporate sponsors.
More details on how the FIFA World Cup is being watched across 17 countries can be found in Altman Solon’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Perspectives report which is available upon request. Please submit the form below to receive the findings and additional insights on key trends and developments reshaping the FIFA World Cup for properties, media partners, and investors.
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