It seems downright unbelievable, but there have been reports of soccer viewership steadily declining. It is easy to see where the rumors are coming from, as other sports also receive good TV coverage, and it could be simply a matter of supply and demand. Let us dive into the number of people watching soccer, as well as where the idea of fewer fans tuning in comes from.
There is a ton of streaming services these days, and a lot of them focus on watching sporting events live. With the people constantly using their phones and tablets, the TV sets get neglected, which could give a somewhat distorted picture on the overall viewership. With so many people unable to watch sporting events due to the time difference, many just visit the websites and check their apps for the final score. That is the theory, anyway.
The problem with this is that every company has their own user statistics which they use to improve on their business model. So, while TV companies might report that the number is decreasing, streaming and networking services could provide their own numbers of viewers, so the theory is lacking.
Most of the reports about the declining viewership come from the States. There are several reasons for this, but the biggest one is simply that soccer is not a pretty big deal in the US. The World Cup is followed by Americans closely only when their team qualifies, otherwise, they have been known to look down on the sport. Because they didn’t qualify for World Cup 2018, the Americans shifted their focus on NBA and NFL.
There is a phenomenon called the confirmation bias. It means that we tend to believe a certain piece of information and then seek confirmation of that, instead of doing objective research. So, if I choose to believe that soccer is boring, I am so sure I am right that I jump from joy every time someone agrees with me. This is the American view of soccer.
The Cold, Hard Facts and Numbers
Back in 2010, the World Cup has been watched closely by one billion people. That equals slightly less than 1/7 of the world population and the only sporting event that topped it two years before that came in the form of the Olympics. In 2014, the total number of viewers was around 3.2 billion, with one billion watching the finals. The World Cup 2018 has been one of the most successful soccer events, during which 3.4 billion soccer fans tuned in. This information can be easily verified. This means that, in spite of the rumors, soccer viewership is not going down, it is steadily growing.