Will World Cup Advertisers Reach Americans?

FIFA World CupAre you ready for the World Cup? If you’re American, there’s a good chance that you know next to nothing about the most-watched sporting event in the world.

According to Global Market Insite’s latest GMI Poll, 56% of Americans who declared themselves to be World Cup fans do not know that the 2006 Soccer World Cup will take place in Germany, and only 1 in 10 plans to follow the game, even though the U.S. team is currently ranked No. 5 in FIFA’s World Ranking.

That’s bad news for advertisers who are ponying up millions of dollars in sponsorships, at least any that expect to reach U.S. audiences. Over 50% of declared U.S. fans either said they “didn’t know” the companies that were official partners of the games, or incorrectly identified them. Adidas, Coca-Cola, MasterCard and McDonald’s were those most often correctly identified as official sponsors, while non-sponsors Nike and Visa were most often identified incorrectly.

Advertisers should have better luck reaching non-U.S. viewers. During April, comScore recorded 5.7 million unique visitors to Yahoo’s official World Cup site, up 35 percent from 4.2 million in March. Only 10% of those visitors came from North America.

In the 2002 games, only about 3.9 million Americans watched the World Cup final out of 1.1 billion viewers worldwide, according to an estimate from Nielsen Media Research. Despite possible indifference, ABC, ESPN, and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision have paid $450 million to FIFA for the exclusive TV rights to FIFA soccer in the U.S. thorugh 2014.

ABC plans extensive TV coverage during the month-long tournament, as well as online with its ESPNsoccernet site. Several games will also be streamed live on the ESPN360 broadband service. The games will be presented ad-free during play, both on TV and online. Ads will be shown during the pre-match, halftime and post-match segments.

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