World Cup broadcasters target 6bn screens, including 4.7bn mobile devices

18 Jun 2014

Broadcasts and streams of this year’s World Cup are capable of reaching up to 6bn screens, which includes 4.7bn connected devices, such as PCs, tablets and smartphones.

According to Ovum, connected devices are proving to be attractive alternatives to conventional TV viewing.

However, with football fans keen to watch the matches on the biggest screen and in the highest resolution possible, Ovum stresses the importance of traditional broadcasting – via terrestrial, cable, satellite, or IPTV – for attracting the largest audiences and generating the most value for World Cup rights holders.

“Devices capable of streaming live and on-demand video – of which there now 4.7bn – are providing additional viewing opportunities outside the appointment viewing taking place in people’s living rooms,” says Ted Hall, senior analyst at Ovum.

“With the likes of tablets providing the convenience and flexibility to consume content whenever and wherever, fans are able to watch more of the tournament than ever before.”

However, he warned technical hiccups must be kept to a minimum for users of smart devices.

“Having set consumer expectations for TV Everywhere, providers must now deliver on the promise of their offerings, as failure to do so can result in bad press and, more importantly, frustrated fans.

“While viewing live events online is improving, there is some way to go before it can compare with the reliability traditional TV distribution offers for the largest audiences,” Hall said.

No result for 4K

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was meant to be the launchpad for the new 4K Ultra high-definition format but it has been something of a flop as the technology and devices aren’t there yet.

FIFA, the international governing body of association football, and technology partner Sony are capturing three matches in 4K. As a result, very few people see them in this resolution, with screenings limited to public venues in Rio de Janeiro.

“4K technology is far from ready for home viewing, with holes in the transmission part of the ecosystem meaning it will be some time before audiences of any significant scale will be watching UHDTV content in their living rooms,” explained Hall.

“And with FIFA abandoning its support of 3D TV for Brazil 2014 – in light of the format’s spectacular failure to capture the public’s imagination – the less-glamorous HDTV will be the preferred format of many World Cup viewers, with up to 260m homes watching matches in high definition.”

World Cup mobile image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years