Television wins the World Cup coverage battle

Media analysts may be calling it the first digital World Cup, but research by Nielsen suggests that live TV broadcasts will be the weapon of choice for football fans hunting the big game in South Africa this summer.

Half the people around the globe plan to follow the FIFA World Cup this summer, according to Nielsen’s Global Omnibus, conducted in March 2010. The potential of such an enormous audience makes the competition and its run-up as much of a marketing contest as a sporting event.

Nielsen Audience Measurement regional director Toni Petra says: “The most exciting thing for marketers about the World Cup is that there continues to be a very high involvement level. More than half the world wants to follow events in South Africa and close to 70% of all men.”

Most Brits will use TV to keep up with the tournament, with 83% of Britons planning to watch live matches on TV, while 68% will watch delayed broadcast TV or match highlights.

Fifty-two per cent of Brits will also use newspapers, while 35% will rely on radio to get their sporting fix. Despite advances in technology and a wider range of media available than ever, watching on a TV screen in real-time still holds most sway with people.

Petra adds: “The average daily time spent in front of TV has been growing over the last five years; in 2009 it grew by another three minutes a day. Across all age groups, TV continues to be the primary delivery mechanism for a message, but you cannot ignore other media.”

The dominance of TV means that although it has been suggested this may be the first “digital World Cup”, just 26% of British consumers plan to follow the World Cup using online articles and reports.

Even real-time methods, such as online streaming, are tempting just 18% of Brits to log on, while 16% plan to watch online video clips and 6% say they will use blogs, chatrooms and forums to keep up to date with the tournament.

These low percentages may be a result of so many options being available to consumers in digital media, rather than a lack of interest. Taken together, the different strands of online use add up to a much higher level of interest.

Nielsen’s Petra notes that although 6% sounds a low figure for accessing mobile video from the World Cup, many people are already using their handsets to access online content. While the overall number of internet-enabled phones is still relatively small overall, it shows that people are keen to access the content.

She explains: “The actual audiences to these platforms are small but growing. There are sectors of the population that are going to be relying on the online world or their mobile phone for a substantial part of their information around this World Cup.”

It appears those people who are using internet channels are largely younger consumers – 30% of under 20-year-olds will use online streaming, compared with 10% of 40- to 44-year-olds. Likewise, 25% of 21- to 24-year-olds plan to view online video clips, compared with 0% of 40- to 44-year-olds.

Online articles and reports, however, draw a slightly older audience. Just 35% of under

20-year-olds plan to access them, compared with 48% of 50- to 54-year-olds.

Petra says: “The younger generation is more tech savvy and they have more access to the technology, but it’s not a space they own. There is an older generation that is spending a significant amount of time on new media.”

Interestingly, those who plan to travel to South Africa divide into two distinct age brackets. There are those consumers under the age of 29 (6% of under-20s, 10% of those aged 21 to 24 and 3% of

25- to 29-year-olds). And those consumers over the age of 60 (8% of 60- to 64-year-olds).

The younger consumers may be teenagers

on a gap year, students, unemployed graduates or those at the start of their careers. In the meantime, the older people are likely to be retired with a pension and significant disposable income.

Whether marketers are targeting a particular demographic or the entire football-watching population, brands need to think very carefully about where to place their messages during the tournament. Choosing the right platform or combination of media to reach its goal is the only way to ensure a World Cup campaign is successful.

The Frontline


Emmanuel Seuge

Group director, worldwide sports and entertainment marketing, The Coca-Cola Company

I’m not surprised that so many people will watch live TV broadcasts. We are organising 65 public viewing events around the world to enable fans to experience the FIFA World Cup with each other.

But our campaign will have a very strong digital platform. We started it with the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, where consumers had the chance to perform a celebration dance on video. Television is obviously a tool that we continue to use, but as we start to target a younger, teenage audience, we want digital to be at the core of what we’re doing.

If you look at the way that teenagers interacted with the Vancouver Olympic Games, the majority of it was through Twitter and Facebook. The US Olympic Committee posted results from their athletes and personal moments on Twitter and there were links to the YouTube or ABC News site, for example.

For the World Cup, we’ve launched what is probably the largest partnership so far for YouTube – a platform that can be launched in 90 countries around the world – where we invite consumers to post their celebration dance. The YouTube site was launched about three weeks ago and it’s building up as consumers start to post their content.

Every TV ad around the world is also signing off with a call to action to consumers to send their videos to the YouTube site. This YouTube platform is at the core of our digital plan, but there is also a lot around it.

We also wanted to create exclusive content for football fans that they could interact with and share with friends. For our Powerade brand, we’ve created a piece of digital content so that the average football player like me can understand what happens when they’re playing sport, to understand how their body reacts when they’re dehydrated and the benefits that Powerade can provide.

We’re trying to expand this unbelievable moment of sharing and of connection that the FIFA World Cup provides beyond the live broadcast by creating means for people to connect. We think that’s going to happen digitally, especially for us, as a brand targeting teenagers in particular.

Andrew Rawle

Marketing manager for personal care, Nivea For Men

The primary viewing method for people will be live broadcast television because it captures the excitement of the moment. That’s what people really want during the World Cup. They’ll also go to places where they can access text-based commentary online or watch the matches streamed live.

Rather than try to change male habits during the World Cup, we wanted to go where we knew men would already be. They will be watching BBC, ITV and Sky Sports and listening to TalkSport. That’s why Nivea For Men has become an official partner of TalkSport’s 2010 World Cup coverage. There is no point us trying to direct them to a Nivea For Men hub because that’s not where they expect to get their football news. We don’t want to change their behaviour; we want to be part of it.

TalkSport is the only commercial radio partner that will be fully dedicated to the World Cup, 24 hours a day. It hits our target audience, in terms of age and social demographics. If we go on TV during the World Cup, the audience becomes a lot less segmented; it’s a lot more general. We feel that we can reach the same amount of people and have a better quality of engagement with them through other channels.

Kristof Fahy

Group brand and marketing director, William Hill

I would have thought that there would be more of a digital presence than is highlighted in this research. It’s quite interesting that people are reverting to tried-and-tested media methods. My instinct would tell me that for big events, such as the World Cup, the Grand National and the General Election, it’s about people getting together. There’s something about the live event that digital can’t currently quite deliver.

Our marketing has to ensure that we’re talking to customers about the channels that they are most interested in. We’re not just online, we’re not just retail and we’re not just telephone – we’ll be looking to cover all the channels represented in the research.

The challenge for any marketer is to increase their presence across all channels. All we’ve done in the media world is increase the number of channels and therefore you have to think carefully about how you weight and connect them.


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