TV Viewership and Marketability
Before I get started, I think it is important to recognize the FIFA World Cup, The Cricket World Cup, and the Summer Olympics are the world’s most watched sporting events. It isn’t a surprise that the FIFA World Cup tops out the list for viewership and although the total numbers globally are incredibly difficult to estimate, (a great example is that almost 35 million Germans (AKA 86% of the population) watched Germany win in 2014. When India and Pakistan faced off for the Cricket World cup there were an estimated 1 billion people that tuned in). The Olympics viewership can vary greatly depending on season, time zones, and location. These three events are clearly the most watched events in the world, however because their location changes every time the event takes place, and they only occur every 4 years the ratings can be a bit skewed based on those factors. When looking at major watchable sports I excluded the above three for the following reasons:
- Infrequency of the event
- Large geographical changes at each occurrence
- Large time zone changes at each occurrence
There is definitely an argument for the Champion’s League final which is considered the world’s most watched annual sporting event (165 million viewers in 2014). It spans all over the globe (albeit concentrated in Europe) and is bit of a headache for marketers since you have to be a huge global brand to get your money’s worth. As far as global eyeballs in front of TV’s it wins that award annually. That said, viewership by country is tied to whether that country is represented in the final, and generally doesn’t come close to the Superbowl. The best argument for the Champions League Final is that it represents the taste of European viewers rather than specific countries with the teams that compete to play in the final.
In the USA, there is a lot of money involved in televised sports. The home to the big 4 major leagues frequently sees huge deals for television rights for sporting events. The NBA and NFL both have contracts for around 25 billion while the MLB and NHL have smaller deals at 12 and 2 billion in the USA respectively. The comparable stats though come down to TV viewership. Below is a breakdown of the big 4 leagues viewership in the USA for their championship game in 2014.
With all of that in mind, why do I conclude that the USA is the “home of major watchable sports”? I base my opinion on a few factors.
- Frequency of major events
- Total viewership among all major leagues
- Viewership over one country
When it comes to watching sports there is no country that does it better than the Americans. They are consistently able to draw huge numbers of viewers for annual events. These viewers are then subjected to large scale targeted advertising by a variety of brands including major sportswear companies. The ability for these brands to reach the American market through televised sport is perfected in America and is exemplified by the $133,333 a second it costs to advertise at the Superbowl. People in the USA are watching a lot of sports, and if you guessed there are a lot of people buying sportswear as a result of that marketing then the numbers infallibly support you.
It’s also worth noting that these leagues are also not finished expanding their influence globally. The NFL, NHL, and NBA all have extended their audience globally with games abroad. The Toronto Maple Leafs (the NHL’s most valuable team) are actually able to reach more viewers in China than in Canada according to Vice.
*Sources for Total USA Viewers:
(Image courtesy of High Snobiety)