According to Initiative's futures sport + entertainment, this summer's World Cup tournament, which starts today (11 June) at 3pm, with South Africa versus Mexico, could attract a live global average audience of 125 million per match.
Furthermore, the 2010 FIFA World Cup final on 11 July is set to be the most- watched sporting final in history.
The 2006 final drew an average live audience of 322 million people, with a reach of 638 million people. This is only second to the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in terms of global penetration.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is also set to enjoy a record number of female viewers, with the female share of viewing expected to rise from 41% in 2006, to 42% this year.
This year's World Cup will also deliver a younger audience profile than other major sporting events. Nearly 35% of the 2006 FIFA World Cup audience was aged 16 to 34, and this could increase for the 2010 tournament.
Most other major sporting events attract audiences comprising between 15% and 30% of 16 to 34-year-olds.
And, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is also set to have the most upscale audience of any World Cup.
In 2002, upmarket viewers were 1% less likely that the rest of the population to watch the World Cup.
However, by 2006, upmarket viewers were 6% more likely than the rest of the population to view the tournament, and Initiative expects this figure to be even higher for the 2010 World Cup.
Kevin Alavy, director of Initiative futures sport + entertainment, said: "No other media property delivers the same spikes in audience delivery, day after day, sustained over a month, as the FIFA World Cup."
He added: "In that sense, the World Cup can be described as the largest shared experience in the world – with all the communications implications and benefits that brings."
Meanwhile, research published by Experian Hitwise today (11 June) reveals that one in every 150 search terms typed into a search engine in the UK are currently World Cup related.
Currently the most popular World Cup searches related to match fixtures, the England squad, wall charts and World Cup fantasy football.
The official FIFA homepage has been the biggest recipient of related searches. For the week ending 5 June www.fifa.com was the eighth most visited sports website in the UK.
Separately, an increasing number of TV viewers in the UK will be switching on to High Definition (HD) TV for the FIFA World Cup, with Ofcom figures revealing that sales of HD-ready TVs topped 24 million by the end of March 2010.
And for the first time, 50% of UK households will also be able to watch the tournament in HD through a standard roof-top aerial, following the early rollout of HD on Freeview.
It has been 40 years since the last major development in World Cup viewing technology, when in 1970, the Mexico World Cup was broadcast in colour for the first time. Back then, England were knocked out by West Germany in the quarter finals.
South Africa 2010 is the first time that HD will be available during a World Cup to a mass market.
But will English fans want to see the team's performance in up to five times more detail than standard definition TV?
When it comes to predictions for this year's World Cup, Brazil is by far the favourite team of digitally-savvy football fans around the world, according to a study by Mindshare.
More than 40% of all fans surveyed said they plan to root for Brazil in the tournament. The next highest team was Argentina with 30% of respondents offering their support.
So, while Spain is the bookies' favourite to lift the trophy, Brazil is the popular favourite around the world.
In contrast, seven nations were tied for dead last with only 1% of respondents claiming support for Slovakia, Algeria, Slovenia, Honduras, Serbia, South Korea, and North Korea.
The results were revealed in Mindshare's ‘Mindreader' series this week. The new study covers 29 markets with a representative sample of 29,000 internet users.
Mindshare's Marco Rimini said: "Mindreader is a really powerful way of looking at what is important to people across the globe. The World Cup is the most popular event in the sporting calendar. Mindreader helps us understand what it means to consumers."
Other results of the online survey revealed that overall levels of interest in following the World Cup ranged widely from 92% in Argentina to just 23% in the US, suggesting the Beckham effect has yet to make any real impact on that side of the Atlantic.
Only fans in a handful of nations had the confidence to predict that their home team will make it all the way to the final, including Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the US.
The stage is all set.
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