Women help build world TV dominance for football

Football dominated global television viewing figures for 2006. Not only were the ratings for the FIFA World Cup final between Italy and France far higher than for any other competition, but the average audiences for 32 of the 64 matches in Germany were better than the USA NFL Super Bowl, the next most popular event. Initiative Sports Futures calculated the audiences from 54 markets, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s television-owning households.

“Football has traditionally been the most popular sport in Europe, South America and Africa but over the last decade it has shown its strongest growth in North America and Asia/Pacific," the agency's head of analytics, Kevin Alavy, told John Goodbody of The Times. “One of the most notable features of the global audience for the 2006 FIFA World Cup was that more women than ever before watched the tournament. Women accounted for 41 percent of the global audience for the event.”

Alavy pointed out that the attraction for sponsors of the five most-watched properties grow ever stronger compared with all other events. Apart from football and American NFL, the Winter Olympics and Formula One predictably were well clear of any of their rivals. One international event that suffered in 2006 was the Tour de France, of which only 15 million people watched the final day. Alavy believes that the repeated drugs scandals that have hit cycling and the Tour in particular have been partly to blame.

Global viewing figures of leading sports events in 2006:

FIFA World Cup final: 260 million (average), 603m (total)
American NFL Super Bowl: 98m, 151m
Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony: 87m, 249m
UEFA Champions League final: 86m, 209m
Brazilian Grand Prix: 83m, 154m
Daytona 500: 20m, 47m
MLB World Series (game five): 19m, 55m
Golf: The Masters (final day): 17m 59m
Wimbledon men’s singles final: 17m, 69m
NBA finals (game six): 17m, 48m

Total viewing figures includes anyone who watched for at least three minutes. Source: Initiative Sports Futures