One of the few remaining global events that much of the world tunes into, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar starts this weekend. Here are a few stats to know from various pieces of research that have been released in the lead-up to the event.
[Before starting, a quick note of acknowledgement of the many controversies about this year’s event regarding its location and human rights abuses. You can read more about those here. In fact, YouGov research indicates that almost one-third – 29% – of US adults believe that the US men’s national team should boycott the World Cup, though 35% believe they shouldn’t.]
45% of American Sports Fans Are Interested in Watching
Almost half (45%) of “monthly sports viewers” in the US are either very or somewhat interested in the World Cup, according to a survey from Altman Solon of 17,000 respondents across 17 countries. Yet, this is the joint-lowest figure of the 17 countries, with only Australia matching that low level of interest. (However 28% of US respondents said they are “very interested,” compared to just 19% of Australian respondents.)
The countries with the most rabid World Cup fan bases are Brazil and Argentina, with 94% of sports viewers in each saying they are interested in watching the event. That includes more than three-quarters (79% and 76%, respectively) in each country who are very interested.
18-24-Year-Olds Are More Interested in the World Cup (45%) Than the Olympics (40%)
A separate survey from YouGov comes to a different conclusion about interest in the US, perhaps because the survey sample was not limited to sports fans. In this survey just 18% of Americans reported that they either are “somewhat interested” in the FIFA Football World Cup or that it is one of their top interests. By comparison, twice as many (36%) said the same about the Summer Olympics.
For its part, a new study [pdf] from Ipsos indicates that 24% of American adults are planning to watch the World Cup. That’s the lowest of all the 34 countries measured.
Returning to the YouGov survey, and in Europe, there’s near parity in interest between the Olympics (48%) and the World Cup (45%), while in South America there’s far more interest in the World Cup (67%) than the Olympics (45%). That’s also the case in the MENA region (61% and 40%, respectively), with those in South Africa also reporting a greater interest in the World Cup (71% and 57%, respectively).
When sorting by age, on a global basis 18-24-year-olds express more interest in the World Cup (45%) than in the Olympics (40%), and people ages 25-34 agree. There’s virtually equal interest in both on the part of people ages 35-44, while the gap in preference skews greater to the Olympics among older groups.
37% of Global Football Fans Are Women
Almost 4 in 10 football fans around the world are women, reveals a Nielsen report [download page]. In fact, women are more interested in the FIFA World Cup than in any other football (to use the global nomenclature) competition. Some 34% of women surveyed are interested in the World Cup, head and shoulders above others, with the next-highest being the UEFA European Championship (21%).
67% of Fans Find Brands That Sponsor Sports Appealing
Two-thirds of football fans think brands are more appealing when they participate in sports sponsorships, according to the above-referenced Nielsen report. Football fans seem to have a higher opinion of such brands than the general population, 52% of whom think brands are more appealing when sponsoring sports.
A majority (56%) of football fans (compared to 39% of the general population) say they’re likely to inform themselves about brands that sponsor sporting events, and 59% (versus 45% of the general population) claim they would pick a sponsor’s product over a rival’s if price and quality were the same.
It is important to note that there are serious and real concerns about the host country Qatar, to the extent that some brands are lauded for not being sponsors. So whether or not these above stats apply to this particular event remains to be seen.
Non-Alcoholic Beverages Category Leads Sponsorship Spend, at 15.8% Share
The Non-Alcoholic Beverages category continues to be the biggest spender on the World Cup, as it has for the past 2 events, per Nielsen’s report. This category accounts for 15.8% share of sponsorship expenditure, with Tourism (13%) the next-biggest spender. The only other category with a double-digit share of sponsorship expenditures on the Qatar-based event is Athletic Apparel & Equipment (11.8%).
Within the US, data from YouGov indicates that three sponsors of the men’s team – Allstate, Chipotle and BioSteel – experienced notable increases in positive buzz in the month between September 10 and October 9, with the increases being particularly significant for the latter two sponsors.
Soccer Fans Engage in 15% More Brand Conversations Each Week Than the Average
Sponsoring brands might be encouraged to hear that soccer fans engage in more word-of-mouth than average. According to data from Engagement Labs, they engage in 90 offline brand conversations each week, compared to 78 for the average person. Compared to the average, they’re 48% more likely to talk about Travel Services brands, 41% more likely to have offline conversations about Children’s Products brands, and 29% more likely to discuss Personal Care/Beauty brands.
Some of the top-indexing brands discussed by soccer fans include the MLS, Trivago, Nivea, Audi, and Adidas.