UK World Cup viewers favour BBC's coverage

The World Cup was a qualified success for advertisers and agencies, with the BBC thrashing ITV with a ratio of 4:1 for simulcast games.

The Brazil versus Germany final culminated with a peak of 11.6 million viewers opting for the BBC, while only 2.6 million chose ITV's coverage, according to Barb figures.

Advertisers have benefited from large-scale, out-of-home viewing which has led to calls for this to be monitored. Unsurprisingly, England games achieved the highest levels of non-residential viewing and this was even more profound for younger audiences.

The viewing figures threw further doubt on Barb's new panel. "Barb shows first round audiences down by 52 per cent on France '98. This shows the extent to which in-home TV has dominated World Cup consumption in the past, and the extent to which Barb may be underestimating TV audiences," John Owen, Starcom Motive's communication director, said.

Although consumers preferred to watch games on the television, radio and online proved to be passable alternatives and Owen suggested that these can only grow further.

"The increasing sophistication of online sports coverage means fans will make more and more use of the net, he said. Owen added that there was a gap in the market for a commercial rival to 5Live.

Chris Locke, the managing director of MediaVest, said the World Cup had broadly been successful for advertisers. "All the advertisers had a go with varying degrees of success at creating suitable ads. Out-of-home viewing has made it worthwhile by providing a large free audience, particularly for the games that were shown solus on ITV1."

He pointed out that some of those advertisers that had signed up football players to star in their ads had to pull the spots when the team the player represented got knocked out of the tournament.

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