[KS] Soccer: More people watched South Korea vs Togo in 2006 than saw the Superbowl
Afostercarter at aol.com
Afostercarter at aol.com
Fri May 28 18:08:12 EDT 2010
Dear friends and colleagues,
Even those of us who have spent a lifetime avoiding sport,
as spectator or participant, can hardly be unaware that the
football World Cup is imminent. (Or soccer, if you insist.)
As I'm sure you know, this is the first final to which both
Korean states have won through. North Korea is back for
the first time since England 1966, memorably recalled in
The Game of their Lives: the first in Dan Gordon and Nick
Bonner's remarkable trio of movies made in and about
North Korea. _http://www.verymuchso.co.uk/_ (http://www.verymuchso.co.uk/)
As the article below brings home, what this means is that
at least for a few weeks literally hundreds of millions of
people, in every corner of the planet and from every walk
of life, who normally never think about Korea, will do so.
The numbers cited below are remarkable. Who knew?
(One can almost forgive that cruel "unglamorous"...)
Of course, Korea has been much in the media already
of late. Let's hope football makes for better news.
Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds
E: _afostercarter at aol.com_ (mailto:afostercarter at aol.com)
_afostercarter at yahoo.com_ (mailto:afostercarter at yahoo.com) W: _www.aidanfc.net_
Flat 1, 40 Magdalen Road, Exeter, Devon, EX2 4TE, England, UK
T: (+44, no 0) 07970 741307 (mobile); 01392 257753 (home)
Skype: Aidan.Foster.Carter Twitter: fcaidan
The cup’s changing line-up of mankind
By Simon Kuper
Published: May 28 2010 20:43 |
You wouldn’t have thought many people would have watched Togo vs South
Korea at the World Cup of 2006. These were unglamorous teams, meeting in the
first round. Nonetheless, the game’s average live global TV audience was
109m viewers. That was more than saw last year’s Super Bowl of American
football, or Champions League final, or probably any non-sporting TV programme.
And the 109m doesn’t include hordes who watched outside their homes, in bars
or on big screens.
Next month’s tournament could be the most watched media event in history,
competing only with the Beijing Olympics, says Kevin Alavy, director at
Initiative, futures sport + entertainment, a research agency.
Mr Alavy gave me some insight into some of the data he has gathered on
world cups. The agency has collected reliable TV data from 55 countries, as
opposed to the inflated figures trumpeted by the sports events themselves.
Initiative’s numbers capture something of the World Cup’s uniqueness.
The context is that almost all TV programmes are losing viewers. When most
people only had a couple of channels, whole nations would sink into the
sofa at the same time for favourite programmes. Now with hundreds of channels
plus DVD and the internet, that hardly happens. Audiences keep
splintering. The generic sports programme around the world loses about 5 per cent of
its viewers each year. Only a handful of big sports events are keeping their
audiences: the Olympics, Super Bowl, Champions League final and big
international football tournaments. And the World Cup does better than just hold
on, says Mr Alavy: “We’re expecting this year’s World Cup to be more viewed
than ever before.”
While other programmes become ever more niche, almost every demographic
now watches the World Cup. That sets the tournament apart from even the
biggest club matches. Togo-Korea drew 10 times more global live viewers at home
than any game in England’s Premier League.
Even young people watch the tournament: a third of the audience is aged 16
to 34. Mr Alavy notes: “Many sports events, such as golf and cycling, have
a horrible time trying to appeal to young viewers.”
Women watch. In 2006 they made up 41 per cent of the World Cup’s audience.
In some countries, like Venezuela, most viewers were female. The notion of
“world cup widows” has become outdated, says Mr Alavy. “Now there must be
world cup widowers.”
Upmarket viewers watch. In 2002 they were still fractionally less
interested than the average person, but by 2006 were 6 per cent more likely to
watch than the average.
No longer is the phrase “World Cup” a misnomer. Until 1990 the tournament
should have been called the European-Latin American duopoly. Now, though,
the cup penetrates almost the whole world.
Mr Alavy says the three most populous countries, China, India and the US,
are still in Initiative’s bottom five for average viewing of the cup. If
these countries continue to switch on, then one day Togo vs South Korea might
truly stop the world.
For now, the tournament’s keenest viewers are the Croats, Dutch and
Norwegians. The UK, says Mr Alavy, never makes the top 10 of average viewers. The
amplified British tabloid noise is not reflected in the population’s
behaviour. Many Britons prefer to consume international football in the form of
Yet the World Cup may still be the most communal experience the country
gets. The tournament provides some of the national glue once supplied by
churches or royal weddings. And the shared experience seems to make lonely
people happier. The Greek epidemiologists Eleni Petridou, Fotis Papadapoulos
and Nick Dessypris have shown that in most European countries the suicide
rate falls during big tournaments.
The World Cup briefly turns a nation into a family, and it also creates
something approximating the universal family of man. Initiative expects this
World Cup to draw 5 per cent more viewers than the last one. If that
applies to the final, then 670m people, or a tenth of mankind, might see at least
part of the game live.
_simonkuper-ft at hotmail.com_ (mailto:simonkuper-ft at hotmail.com)
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