The 2022 World Cup final between Argentina and France on Sunday attracted an average of over 26 million viewers, including a record-breaking English language audience for Fox that put the tournament’s ratings performance above expectations.
The soccer match between France’s Kylian Mbappé and Argentina’s Lionel Messi, which took place in Lusail, Qatar, attracted an average of 16.8 million viewers on Fox. The Nielsen statistic has increased by 47% since the France vs. Croatia World Cup final in 2018.
The sum includes spectators who watched the game live online. An extra 9 million people, up 65% from 2018, watched the Spanish-language broadcast on Telemundo and parent company NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock.
When FIFA, the organization that oversees the World Cup, buys the television rights for the 2030 competition, the excellent performance is likely to increase an anticipated healthy market. Jimmy Pitaro, the chairman of ESPN, has previously stated that the Walt Disney Co. division will probably try to capitalize on the event for its ESPN+ streaming service and TV networks.
Apple and Amazon, two tech giants that watch “NFL Thursday Night Football” exclusively, are likely to make a bid as well since they are becoming more active in their pursuit of sports media rights.
The president of LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media, Lee Burke stated that while one or both of Messi and Mbappe might not be participating in the 2030 World Cup, their dominance of sports media over the past several days could result in a near-doubling of U.S. World Cup rights costs for 2030 and beyond.
Sports TV executives were uneasy about holding the 2022 World Cup in the late autumn owing to the dangerously hot temperature in Qatar, but the numbers for Sunday’s final were especially excellent because the game had a morning start time in the U.S. For the two networks that allegedly spent a combined $1 billion for the broadcast rights to the games in 2018 and 2022, staging it in the Middle East for the first time meant that they were entering uncharted terrain.
The U.S. officially qualifying for the competition was a comfort to us, Mulvihill added. “That’s what gave us hope that it would increase significantly throughout 2018. The rise for the rounds after the United States was eliminated ultimately far beyond our expectations.”
Over the course of 64 matches, Fox averaged 3.5 million viewers, up from 2.7 million in 2018, when the tournament was hosted in Russia. The average audience for NBCUniversal’s Telemundo, Universo, and Peacock increased by 14% to 2.58 million viewers.
Soccer’s affluent viewership makes it particularly enticing as a live television program. Mulvihill said that the $115,000 median household income of Fox’s World Cup viewers is far higher than that of fans of other important team sports.
Soccer is the premier sport exclusively in the United States, at least among the English-speaking people, according to Mulvihill.
Fox and Telemundo received the rights to the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in North America and feature games in Los Angeles and New York, for a slightly higher price than it paid for the 2022 tournament. This decision was made in part in response to complaints that this year’s event was scheduled outside of the regular season.