Written by Sport, TV

1 Billion Viewers

Yesterday the news broke that the Premier League is considering giving everyone an extra fixture which will be played in one of five cities internationally.
I’ll leave others to debate the pros and cons of such a scheme – or “brand extension”.
But plenty of reports claim that “an estimated 1bn people watched the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester United in November 2007.”
I don’t know who was doing the estimating, but they’re wrong.
The reason for the billion estimate was because the game was airing in primetime in the Far East. Everyone knows that countries like China are finding English football ever more popular. Except, that of course, while the population of the country is roughly 1.3bn, comparatively few of them can watch football. It’s a premium commodity!
But as of the end of last year, WinTV which bought the rights to Premier League games for three seasons from the start of this one, only had 20,000 subscribers.
Curiously, depending where you read, reports suggest that previously between 30m and 300m were watching Premier League football regularly.
I tend to believe the former number rather than the latter, since the most popular single show on Chinese TV is the CCTV New Year’s Gala which is estimated to achieve audiences of up to 700m (this year’s Gala was on Wednesday).
Obviously there are many more places that show “EPL football” as it’s known internationally. But in a recent report from Initiative Sports Futures, it placed the Superbowl as the biggest single event, with an average audience of 97m in January 2007, and a total audience (reach) of 142m. This shouldn’t be confused with this year’s Superbowl which achieved an average audience of 97.5m in the US alone, making it the second biggest broadcast ever in that country, only behind the final episode of *MASH* which achieved 106m. And that figure excludes people who watched in clubs and bars.
As Initiative’s report says:
Initiative Sports Futures’ league table of the most popular televised sporting events of the year is very different from that which would be produced if based on typically reported audiences.
Initiative Sports Futures believes that it is vital to draw these differences between actual and reported TV audiences to the attention of sponsors. Reported audiences often reflect the
potential number of viewers, or include news clips within the total audience figures.
Here’s the full list of sports:
World's Most Watched TV Sports Events 2007