The FIFA World Cup rolled into cable and satellite homes on Friday, June 11, via ESPN STAR Sports. However, the countdown to the big daddy of football, which is held once in four years, started much earlier across mass media.
The hullabaloo may not have paid off completely, but the reach of the first five matches held over two days was 19.7 million, as per TAM Sports data (C&S, 4+, all India). This means a 35 per cent increase in the number of people tuning into FIFA in India over the last season, which claimed a reach of 14.6 million in 2006.
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Media planners expect the average TVR to be around 1.5, considering the increased hype around the tournament this time round. Ajit Varghese, managing director, Maxus, believes that FIFA viewership might see better days. "As we go along, there's a possibility of a rise in viewership. But I don't see the average TVR exceeding 1.5," he says.
Lynn de Souza, chairperson and chief executive officer, Lintas Media Group, says that there are pockets in India, such as the South and East, where football viewership is very high, (higher than cricket), because the game is played extensively there. Assam had the highest number of FIFA followers, followed by Kerala and West Bengal, which recorded average TVRs of 4.2 and 4.1, respectively.
She says that viewership in these regions is expected to increase as the tournament unfolds, with the highest TVR touching 6. Besides, she expects the all-India average TVR to reach around 2, perhaps even 3, during the finals.
FIFA is most popular among the older viewers. Viewers from the 35+ age group comprised 46 per cent of the overall audience (C&S, 4+, all India). The 15-24-year-olds formed the next set of FIFA enthusiasts, with 23 per cent viewership coming from that segment. Another 18 per cent viewers were from the 25-34 year age group.
Predictably, 67 per cent of the viewers were male, and the rest female. Nearly half of the viewership (46 per cent) for the initial FIFA matches came from SEC D and E. Another 23 per cent were from SEC B; while 18 per cent were from SEC C. Only 13 per cent viewers were from SEC A.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Nokia, Hero Honda and Samsung Electronics were the top five advertisers during the FIFA World Cup.