The football World Cup has long been a cash bonanza but a lack of growth for TV rights revenues for the finals could mean that governing body FIFA pursues more pay-TV deals, warns a new report by IHS Technology.
The analyst calculates that FIFA’s reported revenue from sales of the 2014 finals amounts to $1.733 billion so far, with Europe accounting for 50% of the total, ahead of Asia and North Africa with 22%. This is slightly less revenue than FIFA generated over the first three years of sales for the 2010 finals, though there is still one more year of sales for the 2014 finals to be reported.
World Cup audiences, mainly through free to air services, are huge, giving global brands huge traction. The 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands pulled in an average audience of 531 million viewers, of which 489 million – the vast majority – viewed the event live. In Germany, the 31 million viewers for the national team’s semi-final with Spain on Das Erste was the largest audience ever measured for a single channel. Half the population of the Netherlands viewed the final. The average audience on TV Globo for matches featuring Brazil was over 44 million.
Yet the analyst feels if stagnation continues, pay-TV could be the preferred option for future events, especially if FIFA is unable to generate increases in its contracts in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. It notes that a pay-TV model is already is already in play in France — where TF1 sub-licensed matches to to BeIN Sport — and Italy where Rai made a similar move with 21st Century Fox satellite platform Sky Italia.