World Cup 2014 Draws Record Number of Viewers Across Screens


By Neeraj Kochhar
June 26, 2014

Soccer – rather, Futbol, if Adriana Lima had her way – is officially a sport that America watches.  Team USA games are driving record viewership across screens.

I, personally, did not see this coming.  Frank Deford, sportswriter extraordinaire at Sports Illustrated, certainly did not see this coming.  Deford’s view of the prospects of soccer with US audiences is best described as grim.  “We expect satisfaction in the United States. Soccer celebrates frustration, “ he wrote in a Sports Illustrated piece “Not our Cup of Tea.”

So, with palpable suspension of disbelief, I took the bait of a New York Times article “Bigger Than Baseball: 25 Million Watch U.S.-Portugal World Cup Match.”

The inconceivable had occurred.  More viewers – a record 23 million – tuned in to watch the Sunday USA-Portugal game on television, trumping viewership numbers for key sporting events like the N.B.A. finals and the World Series.

Record viewership extended to the realm of streaming as well.  4.3 terabits per second of streaming video were delivered across Akamai’s content-delivery network.  I have no clue how to contextualize that number so just trust Akamai that it is a LOT and represents a new high.

And, finally, as of June 23rd, viewers had watched more than 1.2 billion minutes (global numbers) of World Cup ads on YouTube.

Todd Spangler, Digital Editor at Variety, captures the key takeaways at play here in his excellent piece “World Cup to Kick U.S. Device Use Into High Gear.”

So, with respect and full credit, here goes:

“Viewers — and advertisers — now have baseline expectations that live TV programming also will be available on multiple devices, in beautiful HD quality, with a rich set of second-screen features.”

It will be interesting to see how viewership plays out for today’s “weekday” USA/Germany match.

My “prediction” track record is nothing if not dismal; however, I’m going to go on a limb here and predict that the US economy may very well experience a small dip in employee productivity this afternoon.

Go Team USA!