World Cup 2018 breaks viewing records across streaming platforms as soccer fans tune in

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  • Russia scored almost 50 percent of domestic TV audience share for Uruguay group game
  • Real-time TV measurement platform Conviva reveal fans streamed more than 23.3 million hours during the quarter-finals
  • First 10 days of World Cup 2018 see streaming traffic more than double 2014 numbers for the entire tournament

This 2018 World Cup in Russia has seen record numbers of soccer fans tuning in on a variety of devices.

According to data published after the four quarterfinals by video analytics company Conviva, it found worldwide there was an average of 64.6 minutes of viewing time streamed per unique viewer not watching on traditional television.

a large stadium© Provided by CNBC

Compared to Conviva’s Streaming Data Report from the first quarter of 2018, which saw an average of 20 minutes viewing time per session, the World Cup showed huge engagement. The highest numbers of use by device included Roku, Chromecast, and PlayStation, which clocked in at 115 minutes each, followed by Xbox at 111 minutes and Apple TV at 107 minutes of viewing time on average per unique viewer.

“This year’s World Cup has proven to be a record-breaking event for streaming TV. We’re continuing to see off the chart worldwide engagement.” Conviva CEO Bill Demas told CNBC. “Over the quarterfinals, Conviva measured more than 23.3 million hours viewed. We also saw a trend of in-app dominating browser plays (with 67 percent of successful plays in-app versus 33 percent in-browser).”

He went on to say, “Consumers now have the option to stream the games when convenient for their schedules. These examples of consumer viewing flexibility have resulted in streaming records being broken during the World Cup.”

Content delivery network Akamai has been live video streaming 2018 World Cup content for more than 50 rights holders in more than 100 countries. It provides services for major broadcasters including the BBC in the U.K. and across China through CCTV. Its collated data from early in the tournament show that the live streaming has created unprecedented amounts of traffic.

“The tremendous rise in streaming traffic levels for World Cup 2018 is a byproduct of video being delivered at higher fidelity than before.” Said Shawn Michels, Director of Media Product Management at Akamai to CNBC. “As streaming technology advances and audience expectations increase, (over-the-top) OTT delivery is able to support viewing experiences that are on par with, and in some cases, even better than those of traditional television.

The tournament is already the largest sporting event Akamai has ever delivered in terms of total traffic. In fact, within just 10 days of the tournament, total traffic surpassed all 64 games of the 2014 Brazil World Cup. By the end of the second round, Akamai delivered more than two times the traffic it delivered in 2014.

Host nation Russia had low expectations coming into the tournament, with domestic media fearing the worst, just asking the team not to “embarrass” the country. The team eventually came within a penalty shootout of making the semifinals, but not before capturing the imagination of the Russian public.

Two group stage wins brought fans into the stadiums and in front of their televisions by the time it played its third fixture against Uruguay. A 3-0 defeat didn’t impact on Russia’s qualification for the knockout stages and it seems it didn’t cause anyone to turn off either. Seventeen million watched the game on June 25 which scored a 48.4 percent share for the national Channel One network.

During the early group stages, Germany’s ultimately unsuccessful campaign drew in large numbers both domestically and among its opponents. For its second group game against Sweden, and what turned out to be the 2014 champion’s only victory in Russia, 27.48 million Germans turned on their televisions, just under seven million less than the record number that watched the final in Brazil four years ago.

Mexico’s shock opening game win over Germany caused some major activity in Mexico City, but it was also watched by 18.6 million fans on host broadcaster TV Azteca. However, despite the magnitude of the 1-0 result, this number was actually 1.3 million lower than those who saw Mexico’s opening match of 2014 against Croatia.

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