Television

FIFA to be watched on around 6 billion screens worldwide, with TV accounting for less than half

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NEW DELHI: Smartphones, tablets or PCs account for more than half (57 per cent) of the viewing platforms as opposed to conventional TV screens for ardent fans of FIFA World Cup 2014.

The new trend of watching the favourite sports on personal devices, though, does not undermine the importance of traditional broadcasting methods. Connected devices are playing a crucial role in evolving viewing habits for big-events, according to a report published on the official website of research firm Ovum.

The World Cup is expected to have a combined reach of broadcast TV and streaming options available on up to 5.9 billion screens worldwide, estimates research firm Ovum.

“Devices capable of streaming live and on-demand video – of which there are now 4.7 billion – are providing additional viewing opportunities outside the appointment viewing taking place in people’s living rooms,” said Ovum senior analyst Ted Hall in a statement. “With the likes of tablets providing the convenience and flexibility to consume content whenever and wherever, fans are able to watch more of the tournament than ever before.”

Among recent results in the United States, ESPN’s broadcast of the Group G opener between the U.S. and Ghana on 16 June averaged a 6.3 rating and nearly 11.1 million viewers, making it the network’s most-watched men’s football game so far. The match also helped to establish a new record for the WatchESPN app, which was host to 1.4 million viewers and 62.4 million minutes viewed for the contest.

If there’s anything lacking, innovation-wise, for the 2014 iteration of the tournament, it’s the limited access to games in the 4K/Ultra HD format, Ovum noted. FIFA and Sony will produce three matches in the format, though most access will be limited to small screenings, and, as of this writing, none of those games will be offered live via 4K in the U.S.

“4K technology is far from ready for home viewing, with holes in the transmission part of the ecosystem meaning that it will be some time before audiences of any significant scale will be watching UHDTV content in their living rooms,” Hall said.

But the 4K ecosystem is expected to be much more evolved by the 2018 World Cup. On the display side, more than 20 per cent of connected flat panel TVs will be 4K-capable, Cisco Systems predicted in its latest Visual Networking Index Global IP Traffic Forecast. 

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