World Cup 2014 will be the most mobile yet

Tools

June 11, 2014

Rapid take-up of smartphones and tablets, combined with growing availability of 4G mobile and Wi-Fi hotspots, will make the 2014 World Cup the most mobile yet for UK football fans.

Compared to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010, more than double the proportion of adults in the UK will be able to keep up with the tournament via their smartphones (62% take-up compared to 30% in 2010).

Brazil 2014 will also be the first World Cup to see significant use of tablet computers to follow the action. Nearly a third of adults (30%) now use tablets to go online, while the first Apple iPad had only just launched before the 2010 World Cup.

The scheduling of matches means that new technology will be vital in helping UK football fans to keep up to date on matches.

For games that kick-off at 5pm, smartphones and tablets will allow fans to keep an eye on the score, tweet and even watch live on the commute home. Football fans will also be able to take their tablets to bed to watch the 11pm kick-offs.

UK 4G mobile services were still two years from launch during the 2010 World Cup. Today, there are around 6.5 million UK 4G subscriptions while most other mobile customers are on 3G. During the last World Cup, fewer than four in ten mobile connections were on a 3G network.

Fans will also be able to connect to the 34,000 public free-to-access Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK to follow the action; more than double the number available since the World Cup in 2010.

Social media will reach more football fans than before

Widespread use of social media will ensure that the 2014 World Cup will be engaging more fans than ever before.

Ofcom's research shows that two thirds of adults (66%) in the UK have a social media profile, compared to 54% in 2010. There will also be more capacity for live tweeting or posting during matches compared to 2010. More than twice the number of mobile users (53%) now access social media sites on a mobile than in 2010 (22%).

FIFA this week announced that it had set up its first Instagram account to post photos for international football fans during the World Cup. Ofcom's research suggests this could engage younger people – three times more social networkers aged 16-24 used Instagram than the average UK adult who social networks (31% versus 12%).

World Cup TV viewing

According to BFI records, the most watched TV event in the UK was the 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany, with 32.3 million people tuning in.

Compared to audience viewing figures from BARB, the match had more viewers than many major sporting events, including the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony (24.5 million), England against Italy in Euro 2012 (20.3 million) and the Andy Murray Wimbledon final in 2013 (12.3 million). England's exit match against Germany in the 2010 World Cup attracted an average of 15.8 million viewers in the UK.

Figure 1: TV viewing figures for UK sporting events, average audience

Note: Viewing figure estimate for the 1966 World Cup final is based on research conducted by the British Film Institute across ITV and BBC. All other data from BARB.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. Data from Ofcom including Communications Market Report 2011 and 2013, Adults' Media Use and Attitudes Report 2011 and 2014 and Infrastructure Report 2012 and 2013.
  2. The data on free-to-access Wi-Fi spots is based on data in Ofcom's Infrastructure Report. The 2013 report showed 34,000 hotspots compared to 16,000 in 2012, when first measured.