World Cup soccer fans are 21 times more fanatical than hockey fans, 11 times more fanatical than golf fans and four times more fanatical than basketball fans, according to recent sports program viewership data.
Through the concurrence of the NBA Finals, the NHL Stanley Cup Final, the U.S. Open Golf Championship and the FIFA World Cup, the research revealed that FIFA garnered the most fans who tuned in to watch the matches live from Brazil.
"We see in the NFL huge spikes on Sundays, then there's other programs that follow closely behind. But this order of magnitude was off the charts, to the degree that people were watching the World Cup," said Brian Jaquet, communications director for the company that collected the figures.
The international appeal of the World Cup drove the numbers, he said.
The data came from users of Slingbox, a device owned by Sling Media Inc. that lets people watch and manage their cable or satellite television from computers, tablets and smartphones. Collected for the week starting June 9 and ending June 15, the Slingbox blog has been publishing weekly data for the top 10 most popular sports programs since January.
Fanaticism was measured by viewership, or which sports programs Slingbox users were watching on their televisions and mobile devices, Jaquet said. Sling Media does not release specific numbers regarding its customers. Still, Jaquet said that the sample size for this research was in the "tens of thousands."
In the United States, the 2014 World Cup is rating higher than the 2010 South Africa event, according to ESPN. Through 23 matches so far, the ESPN cable networks are averaging a 2.3 household rating in Nielsen's 56 metered markets. That's a 21% increase from the first 23 contests in 2010. The ESPN networks are averaging about 3.7 million viewers. That's a 26% increase from 2010.
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