No TV audience increase expected for 2010 World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The cumulative global television audience for next year’s World Cup in South Africa is estimated to be the same as the last finals in Germany in 2006, FIFA said on Monday.

In this file photo Italy's Marco Materazzi falls on the pitch after being head-butted by France's Zinedine Zidane (R) during their World Cup 2006 final match in Berlin July 9, 2006. FIFA RESTRICTION - NO MOBILE USE HOLLAND OUT Picture taken July 9, 2006. REUTERS/Peter Schols/GPD/Handout

World football’s governing body claimed an audience of 26.3 billion for the 2006 event, broadcast in 214 countries and territories.

“It should be more or less similar for 2010,” FIFA’s television chief Niclas Ericson told a media briefing.

“We do expect record figures in Africa, where there will be much more free TV coverage in general.

“But the problem with these figures is that many countries do not have audited number and it is therefore difficult to predict any significant increase or decrease.

“We do hope the audiences will grow a little bit in every country.”

Ericson said only if countries like China, India and Indonesia, with massive populations, qualified could a major increase in audience be perfected. But all three countries have already been eliminated in the qualifiers.

“We will not give up trying to get everyone to watch the World Cup final,” he added.

Ericson said FIFA would be offering live coverage specifically produced for mobile phones for the first time at the 2010 World Cup finals.

“We have rolled out an aggressive product because more and more people are using the phone now to watch clips, results and updates on their mobile phones.

“We will have dedicated feeds for mobile users.”

Next year’s World Cup finals will be held from June 11-July 11.

Editing by Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story e-mail