Multiscreen options make World Cup Soccer most accessible ever

The 2014 World Cup now playing out in Brazil is turning out to be the most accessible tournament in FIFA's history with a reach of up to 5.9 billion screens worldwide, a new report says. Alternative access on PCs, tablets and smartphones account for 57 percent of those screens, according to Ovum. However, most fans continue to watch the games on the biggest screens they can access for the best experience.

At the same time, the futbol tournament is expected to generate $1.5 billion worldwide this year with bulk of the spending going toward TV and online, according to ZenithOptimedia. The FIFA World Cup championship tournament is expected to contribute $500 million in advertising in Latin America and $300 million each in both the U.S. and Europe.

"Devices capable of streaming live and on-demand video--of which there now 4.7 billion--are providing additional viewing opportunities outside the appointment viewing taking place in people's living rooms," said Ovum senior analyst Ted Hall in a prepared statement. "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."

To be sure, the games are a huge success worldwide but they are also gaining some serious momentum in the United States. ESPN's broadcast of the match between the U.S. and Ghana on June 16 averaged a 6.3 rating and drew about 11.1 million viewers, making it the network's most-watched men's soccer game so far. The match also helped to establish a new record for the WatchESPN app, which was host to 1.4 million viewers and 62.4 million minutes viewed for the contest.

The trick with all those devices being able to access the games is actually delivering the games, Hall said. "For broadcasters and operators providing multiplatform World Cup services, supplying demand with minimal technical hiccups should be of paramount concern," says Hall. "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 of traditional TV."

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this story
- The Wrap has this story
- Multichannel News has this story
- Advanced Television has this story

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