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How many people watch a World Cup final? Record global audience set to tune in for 2022 via TV and streaming

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The World Cup final is a sporting event like no other in terms of its ability to draw in a major international audience from across the globe.

Football’s popularity around the planet means the final showdown is always a huge occasion with supporters tuning in to watch the game on every continent.

The reach of the major domestic European leagues, primarily the English Premier League, has only deepened the role watching football plays in everyday viewing, and the 2022 World Cup final could break new ground.

As thousands of fans travelling to Qatar for the final, millions more will watch the game from home, as the kings of the footballing world are crowned.

MORE: What time is the World Cup final? TV schedule, channel, live stream, kickoff

How many people watch a World Cup final?

Viewing figures for World Cup matches, including the final, have been on a steady upward curve since 2010 after a slight dip in the 2006 tournament.

According to official data from FIFA, an estimated 3.575 billion people watched matches at the 2018 World Cup, with 1.12bn tuning in for France’s final win over Croatia in Moscow.

That was split between traditional ‘home’ televised viewing figures of 3.262bn (2018) and 309.7 million (2018) watching via public domestic means and digital-first streaming options.

Early data from FIFA on the 2022 World Cup indicates more growth, with records smashed for group stage and Round of 16 fixtures, with almost every nation involved seeing their internal viewing figures go up from 2018.

World Cup final vs. Super Bowl, Champions League finals

The World Cup final’s true might as a televised spectacle is potentially demonstrated up against the other major TV sporting events on the calendar.

FIFA’s figure of over a billion viewers watching the 2018 World Cup final outstrips the NFL Super Bowl almost nine fold.

Data from Nielsen Media Research indicates 91.6 million US-based viewers watched the 2021 Super Bowl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, with an estimated worldwide figure of 140m.

In comparison to the UEFA Champions League final, which is widely viewed as the biggest game in club football, the World Cup wins by another huge margin.

Data from Statista shows the global audiences for the five Champions League finals from 2016 to 2021, which involved superpowers from Spain, Italy, England, Germany and France, averaged at 76.1m, with a high in 2017/18 of 105.8m.

Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema

World Cup final audience figures in history

If the 2022 final does continue on its expected surge in viewing figures, a total worldwide figure of 1.5bn does not seem unrealistic on December 18.

The 2018 figure of 1.12bn was up on the 2014 total of 1.01bn, which broke the 1bn mark for the first time since FIFA began measuring the figures.

The 2006 tournament finale saw a drop off, but only based on individual national numbers, with the 2010 final in South Africa watched by 909 million people.


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