The World Cup has just started, and its already breaking streaming records here in the US and around the world. Meanwhile, Facebook looks to the PGA Tour to help increase Watch users, but Amazon’s deal for Premier League soccer looks like a better strategy.
World Cup already breaking streaming records
According to Conviva, the World Cup is already breaking streaming records, even though it still hasn’t started the knockout round. The company says it saw concurrent streamers double over the 2014 tournament. The peak game so far between Argentina and Iceland (which ended in a 1-1 draw) saw a peak concurrent audience of 7.7 million. The peak game in 2014 drew 3.2 million and in 2010 1.5 million. Conviva says that all matches have exceeded the peak seen in previous World Cups.
There is also no question where British hearts lie. England’s opening win over Tunisia attracted 18.3 million viewers on television, equivalent to a 69% share. The royal wedding on May 19th attracted a peak audience of 18 million. BBC iPlayer also streamed the match. It too broke live streaming records, with 3 million stream requests.[UPDATE:] Akamai is also seeing live streaming records tumble. According to Campbell Foster, VP of Product Marketing at Akamai, the company saw the highest peak so far during the excellent Spain versus Portugal match, which ended in a 3-3 draw. Peak concurrent users during the game were 7.8 million and peak bandwidth 15.2 TBs. The previous peaks from the 2014 competition were 5 million concurrent viewers and 7 TBs. Mr. Fosters says that:
- After 2 days, Akamai delivered more video than all of the 2010 World Cup
- After 3 days, Akamai delivered more video than all of the 2012 London Summer Olympics
- After 4 days, Akamai delivered more video than all of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
The US is watching the World Cup too!
Before you say nobody in the US cares about soccer, consider this newly released Nielsen data. It shows that a third of people in the US are very interested in soccer. Of course, this is much lower than places like Mexico (73%) and Germany (60%) where soccer is the number one sport. However, the number of interested citizens increased 4% over the 2014 tournament.
Shareablee says that 90% of US adults plan to watch as much as or more of the World Cup in 2018 as in 2014. However, that would include people that watched zero before and plan to do so again! Notwithstanding this dubious data point, Shareablee goes on to say that two-thirds of US adults plan to watch the matches on TV.
Half of US adults say they will use social media to keep up with what’s happening. The main reason to follow on social media? It’s all about the goals. 69% of social World Cup followers plan to watch match highlights.
Keeping in mind that the US didn’t qualify for the tournament, the data certainly is a testament to the native popularity of the sport. It looks like we can expect live streaming recordings at home and away to continue fall as the tournament progresses to final on Sunday, July 15th.
Facebook looks to PGA Tour to grow Watch users
Facebook has completed a deal with the PGA Tour for 60 hours of exclusive live coverage during eight golf events. The time will be allocated to Saturday and Sunday sessions across several events starting with the Travelers Championship on June 23rd. Coverage will start at 8:30 AM each day and continue until Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage begins. The coverage will be available free to U.S. users of Facebook Watch.
Facebook Watch could be a good outlet for the sport of Golf. The number of people playing the sport has fallen 30% since 2002, to 21 million. As well, millennials aren’t showing the interest in sports that they used. Facebook Watch could be a great way of engaging with a hard to reach audience.
Whether it is such a good deal for Facebook is another matter. It should bring in new viewers, but they are likely to be older and male. Shows like Tom Brady in Tom versus Time and Mike Rowe are unlikely to be enough to retain them.
Amazon’s deal in the UK for Premier League seems like a much more targeted approach. Amazon surely paid a lot more for the soccer rights than Facebook did for PGA, but it’s more likely to acquire more long-term customers. To watch, Britain’s must sign up for Prime for $113 a year. Moreover, since it comes with free shipping, they’ll likely spend a lot more with the Amazon retail store.
Why it matters
Live sport in the guise of soccer is once again taking center stage in online video delivery.
Though the World Cup isn’t yet in its second week, it is already breaking streaming records in the US and around the world.
When it comes to bringing in long-term customers, Premier League soccer seems like a better bet than PGA Tour Golf.
 The Conviva numbers are not for the total online audience but are representative of the growth in online streaming.