World Cup marks record mobile TV viewing

The 2010 FIFA World Cup created a new benchmark for mobile viewing in the United States, with ESPN reporting 8.2 million mobile views and 50.4 million page views in the first two days of the event.

June 23 was the most heavily trafficked day across all of ESPN’s mobile platforms. On that day, its World Cup 2010 iPhone app clocked in 3.2 million visits and 19.9 million page views, and its mobile website registered 2.4 million visits and 13.7 million page views. Games over the first 13 days of the World Cup (June 11 through 23) generated more than 40 million minutes of viewing across ESPN Mobile TV's three providers (MobiTV, FLO TV, Verizon V CAST); in those 13 days, each match averaged 58,000 unique viewers.

FLO TV executives said the service enjoyed “viewership records” around its broadcast of ESPN’s coverage of all the World Cup matches. Statistics include FLO’s highest-ever rated sports telecast for the South Africa vs. Mexico game, when 80 percent of those watching FLO were tuned into the game. Total viewing minutes bounced up 39 percent during the first five days of the World Cup, compared with the previous week. World Cup matches account for three of FLO’s top five viewing days.

AT&T Mobile TV, MobiTV, Sprint TV and Verizon V Cast Mobile TV also carried most or all of the ESPN World Cup mobile feed. But Smart Device Central reported that the subscribers to these mobile video services could only watch the matches on a limited number of phones: AT&T Mobile TV is available on a half-dozen phones, including the Samsung Mythic and Samsung Eternity; Verizon phones that support V Cast Mobile TV include the HTC Imagio and several Android handsets. Sprint offered the World Cup on numerous smart phones, including the HTC EVO 4G, HTC Hero, Samsung Moment, Samsung Instinct, BlackBerry Bold 9650 and BlackBerry Curve as well as some feature phones. Although the World Cup viewing numbers aren’t in yet for these companies, it seems likely that they too experienced a bump — how significant remains to be seen.

That mobile has become a viewing medium of choice for World Cup events is in line with predictions made by Nielsen in the weeks leading up to the event. Nielsen reported that 21 percent of global fans said they planned to get information from the Internet via mobile devices, with an additional 9 percent saying they planned to use apps. In the United States, 23 percent of fans said they planned to keep track of the matches on mobile devices.