The 12 World Cup arenas are not the only ones achieving impressive audiences - the average before this Tuesday (24 June) was 51,165 people in 36 matches played. The Fan Fests (public fests organized in the 12 host cities) have already attracted 2.5 million fans, and expectations for television are for record-breaking numbers as well.
One of them has already been broken in the 2-2 match on Sunday (22 June) in Manaus between USA and Portugal: about 24.7 million viewers followed the match in the United States alone. The number is higher than the average ratings for the NBA playoffs and for the baseball World Series. ESPN had 18.2 million viewers watching the match, while Univision, which broadcasts games in Spanish, attracted another 6.5 million.
To Niclas Ericson, Director of FIFA TV, the numbers show the growing popularity of soccer in the USA. “It is a milestone. We are very happy," said Ericson on a FIFA press conference.
The same match also hit record ratings in Portugal. It was the largest audience watching Portuguese TV in two years, with 3.7 million viewers watching the RTP1 live broadcast. That audience is bigger than any other game broadcast in the country for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
The global rating numbers for all matches will be announced after the final match of the World Cup, but partial reports from some of them have encouraged FIFA, which expects to surpass the number of viewers of the 2010 World Cup. “We had 3.2 billion viewers in 2010, and we expect to have bigger numbers this time around," Ericson said.
FIFA has signed agreements with more than 160 broadcast rights holders around the world, which, according to the organization, means that there are match broadcasts to all countries and territories in the planet.
Records were also broken in other countries:
- France 5-2 Switzerland: TF1 attracted more viewers than any other show on French TV in the last seven years.
- Costa Rica 1-0 Italy: reached the largest ratings in Italian TV in two years, with broadcasts on RAI 1, Sky Mondiale and RAI Sport.
- Belgium 1-0 Russia: set a new record for football broadcasting in Russia, with the Rossiya 1 channel attracting 14.4 million viewers to the match. It also had the largest television rating numbers in the history of French-speaking Belgium, with RTBF's coverage reaching an average of 1.5 million viewers. It was the second time that record was broken during the World Cup 2014.
- Netherlands 2-0 Chile: 8.1 million people watched the match on the Ned 1 channel, the largest ratings on Dutch television for any TV program since 2010.
- Uruguay 2-1 England: An average of 17.9 million viewers in the UK followed the Uruguayan victory live on ITV, which is the largest TV audience in the region since 2012.
- Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan: The game attracted 34.1 million Japanese viewers during the live broadcast by NHK. It was the country’s largest audience for a sporting event on TV this year.
- France 3-0 Honduras: the live broadcast of the French team's first match in the World Cup was watched by 15.8 million viewers, more than any match of Bleus in the 2010 World Cup and the largest sports audience of the year on French TV.
- Germany 4-0 Portugal: 26.4 million viewers watched ARD's live broadcast of the match on German territory.