FIFA: At least 1 billion saw Cup final

Updated: July 11, 2011, 3:19 PM ET
Associated Press

ZURICH -- The 2010 World Cup final was probably seen by at least 1 billion people, though the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony appears to retain top spot as the most-watched televised event.

FIFA says 909.6 million television viewers watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup final at home between Spain and the Netherlands, and the total likely topped a billion when adding online and public places.

FIFA's research says 619.7 million people watched 20 consecutive minutes of Spain's 1-0 extra-time win.

However, the official ratings for soccer's biggest match seems to have been beaten by the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony as the world's most-watched live event.

FIFA says the "average in-home global audience" was 530.9 million for the final played July 11, 2010, at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

The Olympics' opening at Bird's Nest stadium drew an average audience of 593 million.

FIFA said the 2010 World Cup -- 64 matches played by 32 countries over one month -- was broadcast in every territory in the world.

More than 3.2 billion people, or 46.4 percent of the population, watched live coverage for a minimum of one minute, FIFA's research said.

The average official rating was 188.4 million for each match.

"These results show that the FIFA World Cup remains a compelling spectacle for viewers around the world," secretary general Jerome Valcke said in a statement.

The federation earned $2.4 billion in broadcasting deals tied to the 2010 tournament, according to its financial report published in March.

FIFA said its ratings research included audited audience figures from 80 territories covering 70 percent of the world's population.

"Estimated ratings continue to be necessary in much of Africa, the Middle East, Caribbean, Pacific Islands and smaller markets in the Asia subcontinent," football's governing body said.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press