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World Cup final scores record 29.4m TV audience in France

Argentina’s World Cup triumph averages 24.1m viewers on TF1.

21 December 2022 Josh Sim

Getty Images

  • BBC draws peak audience of 14.9m for final, with 58% audience share
  • World Cup viewership continues to decline in Germany
  • Google reports record-high level of traffic in Google Search

Argentina’s World Cup final win over France drew a peak audience of 29.4 million viewers for French TV commercial network TF1, an audience share of 81 per cent.

The match, which was played at 4pm in France, averaged 24.1 million viewers to set a new all-time French viewership record. That figure is higher than the audience that tuned into Russia 2018 World Cup final won by France, which scored a peak of 22.3 million viewers and an average of 19.3 million. For the first time, French audience measurement firm Médiamétrie counted those watching in public areas, as well as on portable devices.

In Argentina, the TV Publica public service network scored an average of 38.4 rating points, with a peak of 40.9 rating points, according to Ibope. On TyC Sports, the final averaged 24.6 points, reaching a peak of 25.2 points, a record for the pay-TV channel. The combined average of 63 points translates into 6.3 million televisions, although an exact figure for total viewers has not been confirmed.

In the UK, a peak of 14.9 million tuned into the BBC’s coverage of the final. As well as having a TV audience share of 58 per cent, Argentina’s triumph was also streamed 7.1 million times on the iPlayer platform and on the BBC Sport website.

The public service broadcaster also reported that its TV coverage was seen by 38.8 million people in total throughout the tournament. The World Cup was also streamed 104.7 million times on iPlayer and on the BBC Sport website, which was a new record.

UK commercial broadcaster ITV saw a peak of 4.4 million for its own linear broadcast of the final, with a TV audience share of 17.8 per cent. Its coverage was streamed 146 million times across the competition on its ITVX and ITV Hub platforms.

In Spain, an average of 9.8 million people watched the final on La1, Spanish public broadcaster RTVE’s primary channel, according to FormulaTV.com. Meanwhile, Italian public broadcaster Rai recorded a viewership of 12.9 million, which was a 68.6 per cent audience share, for the game’s initial 90 minutes. The audience then grew to 16.1 million during the penalty shootout, which was a 74.3 per cent share.

Staying in Europe, Dutch public broadcaster NOS had an average linear TV audience of over 4.4 million watching Argentina’s triumph, according to Dutch ratings organisation Stichting KijkOnderzoek. An average of 9.3 million people also caught the game on Polish public broadcaster TVP, with the main TVP1 channel picking up an average of 7.1 million viewers, which is estimated to be a 46.7 per cent audience share.

In the US, Fox reported that the final was the most-watched World Cup decider in the US, amassing 16.78 million viewers on both linear TV and streaming services, ending the 1994 final’s run in the process.

US media giant NBC’s Spanish-language coverage on the Peacock and Telemundo platforms brought in a total audience delivery (TAD) of nine million. That figure made Argentina’s win the most watched and streamed match of this year’s competition, while representing a 65 per cent jump from the 2018 final’s TAD. The World Cup final was also the most streamed match in US media history with an average minute audience (AMA) of three million viewers.

However, the final struggled to attain reach similar viewership levels as previous finals in Germany. Public service broadcaster ARD registered an average viewership of 13.9 million (53.6 per cent share) for Fifa’s showpiece – six million fewer than those watching the 2018 final on another public broadcaster in ZDF.

In Brazil, all 64 World Cup games were freely streamed on Fifa’s streaming platform Fifa+. Soccer’s governing body said it brought in three times more Brazilian fans to its digital platforms compared to 2018, with streams gaining more than 40 million unique viewers throughout the tournament.

Elsewhere, social media platform TikTok revealed that Fifa had doubled its follower count to nearly 12 million as the tournament went on. The competition’s popularity was further reflected by the ‘Fifa World Cup’ hashtag amassing over 25 billion views.

Meanwhile, Google reported that its Google Search tool gained a record-high level of traffic during the final.

Artificial intelligence (AI) video specialist WSC Sports added that there were more than 60 million views of its real-time highlights of the World Cup on Google Search throughout the competition’s duration. Online demand was further demonstrated through the firm’s finding that one in three viewers clicked through to its clients’ native digital platforms to consume tournament-related content.

Twitter reported that there were 147 billion conversation impressions on the platform throughout the competition, more than doubling the total amassed during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi was the most talked about player on the platform, ahead of Paris Saint-Germain teammates Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Argentina were the most tweeted about team, ahead of South American rivals Brazil, whose fans sent more tweets than any other nation during the tournament, ahead of Japan.

Across its Twitter accounts, Fifa averaged two million likes per day, and 226 per cent more tweet impressions than the 2018 edition.

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