World Cup TV ratings show huge rise

TV coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final attracted unprecedented numbers of Canadian viewers to soccer.

CBC and Radio-Canada show 105 per cent jump for final game over 2006

Coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa final brought in unprecedented numbers of viewers for the sport of soccer in Canada.

Spain's victory over the Netherlands on Sunday afternoon attracted an average audience of 5.131 million to the CBC, with a peak of 7.664 million, according to BBM overnight measurements.

Radio-Canada television drew 685,000 in French for a combined 5.816 million watchers, a number 105 per cent higher than the English and French broadcasts of the 2006 final brought in, the network said.

"We're thrilled with the numbers," Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports, said Monday. "I think it's in keeping with the increased viewership we've seen across the board at the World Cup through the entire tournament.

"We saw increases of anywhere from 100 to 250 per cent for various games in the tournament, and I think it reflects the growing interest and appetite for soccer in Canada."

Moore sees a handful of factors combining to account for the big rise.

First, a new ratings system that can track "out of home" TV watching, such as viewing at bars and restaurants, has increased numbers for live sports by 30 to 50 per cent.

Second, Moore believes the location of the tournament in South Africa "created a great deal more buzz than in previous World Cups."

And with the tournament available on over-the-air television through CBC and SRC, "every ma and pop restaurant and café could put a TV out with rabbit ears and watch the World Cup."

Online streaming of the final game at drew 231,649.

CBC Sports holds the Canadian rights to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, and Moore says that's creating a lot of excitement.

"With the time zones in Brazil, the key games will be in prime time in eastern time, which I think will increase the audiences again by another 30 to 50 per cent."

In the United States, television viewership was up 41 per cent from four years ago, drawing 15.545 million on ABC and 8.8 million on Spanish-language Univision, according to Nielsen Media Research.

With files from The Associated Press