When it comes to sporting spectacles, there are some events that are truly global in nature. The Olympics is one, and the football World Cup is another. However, Russia 2018 proved to take even the most optimistic within the sport by surprise with the sheer numbers that tuned in from every corner of the globe.
Online streaming numbers have already eclipsed Rio 2014
Football is the most popular sport on the planet, and it captures the imagination even in those places that have their own home-made sports, and where they refer to it as soccer. That hasn’t changed, but what has is the question of accessibility. During Russia 2018, anyone from anywhere was able to simply log on to a World Cup live streaming website, meaning fans were no longer at the mercy of the TV networks and schedulers.
Platforms like Twitch TV were born of the eSports age, but they have revolutionised the way people watch traditional sport, too. One cloud delivery platform reported that streaming figures for the first round of Russia 2018 were more than 60 percent higher than they were for Rio 2014 in its entirety. Bandwidth hit a peak of 23.8Tpbs over recent weeks. Compare that with it hitting a height of 7Tpbs for Rio and you get an indication of what a difference four years can make.
Of course, the biggest matches of the tournament are likely to show even higher figures when reported.
The world on the edge of its seat
The final round of group matches saw the greatest online viewers, when the Mexico vs Sweden and that incredible Germany vs South Korea game were played simultaneously. There were 9.7 million people concurrently logged on and watching the action – almost double the peak for 2014.
As viewing numbers have increased over the years, so has the level of coverage available online. Live streaming was once seen as something of a “poor relation” – something that people could do as an alternative if they were unable to get to a TV. The growing viewing numbers prove that this is no longer the case. Professional commentary, analysis and even direct access to the latest bookmaker odds are just a few of the value-added services that live stream providers can add to the mix.
The result? The live streaming phenomenon will only get bigger and better and the traditional TV companies need to react fast or they will find themselves obsolete.
BBC and ITV in on the streaming action
Many broadcasters are doing just that. The BBC’s iPlayer platform is free to watch for anyone with a TV licence, and the England vs Tunisia game on 18 June attracted three million UK hits. That represented a record for iPlayer, but it was one that was subsequently broken with every successive England game they have covered. Rival broadcaster ITV showed the knockout game against Colombia and reported that records were being broken left, right and centre. More than 24 million people were watching on TV, and 3.3 million viewed the coverage via the ITV Hub, the channel’s own version of iPlayer.
The only way is up
England’s progression to the semi finals meant that the numbers continued to rise, and the Croatia clash had 26 million viewers and almost 3.5 million streaming. Keep in mind that these figures just relate to the domestic UK platforms and are a drop in the ocean when it comes to global viewing figures.
Full viewing figures across all platforms will take a while to be calculated, but it is worth remembering that despite streaming numbers being so much lower, half the world’s population was watching Rio 2014, and a billion people tuned in for the final. This year, the numbers will undoubtedly have been higher. It is a perfect demonstration of how the world wide web really can connect us all, wherever we might be.