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Bigger than the Superbowl: the World Cup breaks viewing records

Their football team might be out of the World Cup, but US viewership has skyrocketed during the tournament. EPA/Tannen Maury

Bigger than the Superbowl: the World Cup breaks viewing records

Their football team might be out of the World Cup, but US viewership has skyrocketed during the tournament. EPA/Tannen Maury

It’s official: more people in the US are streaming the World Cup than this year’s Superbowl, so it’s no surprise sports channel ESPN this week reported a 46% increase in viewership in group round games from 2010 to 2014.

Particularly interesting in the discussion of streaming figures is that such activity is able to be measured in “streaming minutes” or “data transferred” – much more specific metrics than traditional audience figures.

Accurate global TV ratings are still a way off, considering the official FIFA World Cup 2010 Audience Report came out almost a year after the tournament.

Twitter and ratings are undeniably connected, but the extent of the correlation often depends of the type of broadcast: whether it’s a live sporting event, soap opera finale or reality television show.

Indeed, a breakdown of the global tweets by timezone shows the dominance of US viewers in the Twitter conversation (including non-English hashtags):

Tweets by user timezone using the generic World Cup hashtags, June 19-26. Hawaii is separated here, as it may be over-represented due to being top of Twitter’s timezone list.