Increased Viewership, Online Visits and Ad Engagement Among World Cup Highlights

Increased Viewership, Online Visits and Ad Engagement Among World Cup Highlights

The FIFA World Cup ended more than two months ago, but insights about the impact of that global soccer tournament on consumer behavior continue to flow in. At a special panel this morning devoted to the World Cup, Nielsen reported that within the 31 countries where it measures television viewing, more than half of all potential viewers, or about 500 million people, watched at least part of the games.

Other highlights of the World Cup’s popularity include:

  • In the U.S., 112 million people, or 37% of the viewing public, watched part of the games. This is 27% higher than 2006.
  • In addition, about 64 million people – or about a third of all U.S. Internet users – visited a World Cup-related website such as,,, or Yahoo! Sports.
  • In the blogosphere during the three months May-July 2010, 6.2 million people were exposed to World Cup buzz on blogs and chat rooms, and they saw 15.1 million buzz impressions.

The World Cup presents tremendous opportunities for reaching a large number of consumers, but perhaps even more important, a large number of very engaged consumers. The intensity of consumers’ involvement in the World Cup is extremely high and as Nielsen has shown in the past, a viewer’s engagement with a program is a good indicator of how engaged he or she will be with a commercial message.

Nielsen’s ad effectiveness business looked to see whether there was any link between being an official World Cup sponsor and viewers’ engagement with those ads. In fact, Nielsen found that Official sponsors had a higher net “Likeability” on average compared to commercials from other, non-sponsor World Cup advertisers. The insights from Nielsen’s ad effectiveness research were borne out by our research into online conversations. Most of the official World Cup sponsors became the most buzzed-about brands online.

The World Cup was a great laboratory to test out new ways of gaining insight into how consumers interact with the World Cup. One of the many innovative projects Nielsen undertook for the World Cup was our Life360 digital ethnography initiative, which gave us an intimate, revealing true-to-life view of how people used media during the games.

In our Life360 projects, we ask a specially recruited panel of consumers to record their engagement with media, purchase behavior, or other activities for a limited period of time. In South Africa, for example, we recruited a panel of 420 respondents, equipped them with mobile devices and asked them five times a day to answer surveys that measured their interaction with media, brand awareness and select expenditures — along with their mood and a photo. Surveys were collected at homes, work, fan parks, stadiums and other venues, yielding a trove of data and 54,000 images.

In the U.S., our Life360 work involved equipping 100 respondents with video cameras and asked them to record their engagement with the tournament across platforms (for ESPN & Univision). Nielsen Life360’s research demonstrated the intensity with which viewers interacted with the games. It also showed that viewing among Hispanics was an all-family affair, with women tuning into games in high numbers and creating fútbol parties – with special dishes, team colors and cheerleading of their favorite teams.