World Cup Stats: The Net’s Biggest Sporting Event

Spain may have won the World Cup, but online, we’re all winners. Or at least all the broadcasters are, because they attracted record audiences with live streams of this year’s soccer tournament. Here are some final stats from ESPN (s DIS), Univision and others:

  • ESPN3 clocked nearly 7.4 million unique viewers, generating 15.7 million hours of viewing. 355,000 people per minute tuned in for the semifinal match between Germany and Spain, which makes it ESPN3’s largest average audience ever for a live online sporting event. The network’s World Cup app was downloaded more than 2.5 million times, and it was accessed by 1 million users per day on average.
  • Univision told us that its site was a big hit as well, streaming more than 10 million hours of live video throughout the tournament. Users spent nearly 90 minutes on the site each day on average, with Univision tracking more than 265,000 unique media players. The network also did pretty well in the mobile space. More than 450,000 users have downloaded the Univision Futbol app since its launch. Univision tracked a combined 34.7 million visits across its online and mobile offerings throughout the tournament.
  • Akamai (s AKAM) told us that it delivered more than 1.5 Tbps and 1.6 million concurrent streams at the peak across its network, serving live video streams for ESPN as well as Spain’s Prisacom, Mexico’s Televisa and about two dozen other broadcasters worldwide.
  • Conviva managed some 200 million video views for 30 million unique viewers of live streams offered by Univision, China’s CNTV, Canada’s CBC and others. All in all, it tracked a total of 50 million hours of video viewed.
  • Twitter didn’t exactly break any records with its uptime during the World Cup, but the service saw a lot of engagement throughout the tournament. Trendrr told us that it tracked up to six million World Cup–related terms each day. This included “vuvuzela,” which inspired up to 280,000 tweets per day.
  • Nielsen measured the international popularity of the official FIFA website, which was the biggest hit in Brazil, where 7 percent of all Internet users, or 2.8 million people total, frequented it for World Cup updates. The FIFA site was also hugely popular in the U.K. (6.9 percent of all British Internet users / 2.7 million people) and Switzerland (5.6 percent of all Swiss Internet users / 0.25 million people). Also worth noting: Most visitors are between 18 and 34 and are male, with the exception of  Germany, where 54 percent of all visitors were female.
  • MobiTV, which offers mobile access to live TV programming via a paid monthly subscription, streamed 1.8 million hours of ESPN Mobile TV during the 31 days of the World Cup (this number includes World Cup coverage and other sporting events). A company spokesperson told us that this has been “the biggest live event to date” for MobiTV, adding that the game between the US and Algeria had highest average minutes per user and the game between Netherlands and Spain had the highest number of unique viewers.

So how does the World Cup stack up to other sporting events online? CBS pointed out earlier during the tournament that some of its March Madness games had larger online audiences, leading to rebuttals from ESPN. However, now it seems clear that the World Cup was a much larger online event.

Sure, CBS clocked some 8.3 million unique users to its March Madness online player, which is more than ESPN3 had during the World Cup. However, ESPN’s 15.7 million hours of live video viewed dwarf CBS’s 11.7 million hours. And if you add up ESPN3’s numbers with the ones served by Univision, you end up with 26.7 million hours of online viewing — which clearly makes this the largest online sporting event in the U.S.

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