People are still talking about the U.S.’s exciting—albeit disappointing—World Cup run, and the focus has mainly been on goalkeeper Tim Howard’s record-setting 16-save performance against Belgium last Tuesday afternoon. But did you know that another record was quietly broken in the tournament’s U.S. game against Germany? If not, you might be surprised to learn that it didn’t actually occur on the field.
During the U.S.-Germany match, ESPN’s WatchESPN online service recorded a groundbreaking 1.7 million viewers. While this is less than the total amount of live TV viewers that watched the game, it’s still more than the 1.1 million concurrent users that tuned in to stream this year’s Super Bowl through the Fox Sports Go streaming service. And while the number might be slightly inflated because the game aired in the middle of the day while the majority of Americans were away from their television sets, the fact is that live streaming provided these fans the opportunity to catch the action as it happened instead of having to watch post-game highlights or DVR recordings.
It’s hard to believe, but live streaming is still a relatively new phenomenon—especially for the World Cup, which only happens once every four years. Part of what has made the event explode in popularity in this millennium is the new and exciting ways to follow the action as it unfolds. Over the years, we have seen the tournament move from television to the web, but live streaming of the games has only been an option since the last tournament in South Africa in 2010. At that point, competing large broadcasters were doing everything in their power to prevent live streaming from occurring. But user demand has since overridden these attempts.
Now, some of these broadcasting companies, like ESPN and Univision, are finally starting to catch on to the fact that we are living in an increasingly mobile world, and consumers want access to important programs where they are, when they want. By embracing live streaming apps and web services, these companies are helping bring the World Cup to places where it would otherwise be impossible to watch the games in real time.
So, how will fans around the world experience the World Cup in Russia in 2018? Industry pundits are predicting that the next tournament could be the first predominantly mobile World Cup, as streaming technology continues to improve and an increasing number of companies use the cloud to stream the games to end users. And by the time talk of the following World Cup begins, we could very well have the option of real-time three-dimensional virtual viewing. This will bring the game off of the screen like it has never been experienced before.
How do you think you will view the next World Cup? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!