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Soccer The Beautiful Game Goes Mobile
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Soccer The Beautiful Game Goes Mobile

Roger Entner, Senior Vice President, Research and Insights, Telecom Practice

The World Cup, the most popular sports event in the world, is upon us again.  While the importance Americans attach to this event is small, the rest of the world literally views it differently, and for the first time mobile devices will play an important part in how people follow the game.

More nations (208) participate in the World Cup’s qualifying tournaments than in the Olympics (205) or the United Nations (194). The World Cup has been a flashpoint in war (as in the 1969 “Soccer War” between Honduras and El Salvador) and wars have been halted to allow combatants to watch mere exhibition games (albeit with soccer great Pele and the Brazilian National Team) like during Nigeria’s civil war also in 1969. Despite revelry in the streets, crime rates are said to drop during the games in many countries because even the crooks are glued to their TV sets.

And now, the Beautiful Game, or joga bonito as the Brazilians say, is coming to mobile.

When asked how they intend to follow the World Cup, fans chose mobile with surprising regularity. Globally, 21% said they would get at least some of their information from the Internet via their mobile devices and 9% said they would get it through applicationa on their phones.

Latin America is one of the most soccer-crazed parts of the world, but interest in following the tournament via mobile is different from country to country. While the interest in the World Cup is almost equally high in Argentina and Brazil, Brazilians are twice as likely (21%) to get World Cup information from their phones as Argentines (10%). But neither country comes close to Venezuela, where 27% of respondents say they’ll be following the games on a mobile device. In North America, 23% of U.S. respondents, but only 11% of Canadians, will check up on the World Cup via their mobile phone.

Throughout the rest of the world, interest in World Cup information via mobile is also strong. In every country that we surveyed in the Middle East and Africa, between 22% and 30% of respondents planned to use mobile as one of the ways to get information about the World Cup. The numbers in Europe were lower with Ireland showing the most mobile interest (18%). In big European soccer nations like Germany and Spain, only 3% of respondents said they’d use their mobile phones to get information about World Cup games.

Where it gets really interesting is with TV usage: live TV broadcast and mobile Internet access were moderately negatively correlated (-0.46), indicating that the less likely you are to watch the TV live broadcast the more likely you are to seek out the information with your mobile phone. At the same time delayed broadcasting/highlights was completely randomly correlated (-0.03) with using Internet on the phone to find out about the World Cup. This indicates that people want to know about the games immediately and not get rid of the television viewing experience.