A recent Reuters headline read: "World Cup ratings equal 64 Super Bowls."
In the U.S. right now, some TV executive, noting this, is working like a mad scientist trying to strategize how to get FIFA, the organizing body of soccer and the World Cup, to run the event every year--with commercial breaks.
Here's why: fanciful advertising calculations of the $2.4 million for a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl means a dreamy $153.6 million for one 30-second spot in the World Cup. That frenetically working executive is in dreamland, of course. There are virtually no 30-second commercial spots in the big quad-annual soccer event. But there is signage and other on-screen marketing tools.
Soccer--or futbol--is the world's biggest sport, no doubt. Advertisers have long been trying to figure out how to harness the full marketing prowess of the event. In the U.S., we'd just add a few commercials to make it a bigger financial success for marketers.
So comparing the World Cup to the Super Bowl really isn't fair. Soccer is about continuous action (except for half-time, of course); American football has a lot of stops and starts. The Super Bowl can average 100 million U.S. viewers on one specific day in February. The World Cup had 5.9 billion worldwide viewers for one month of matches this summer.
Sixty-four Super Bowls equaling the World Cup is an eye-catching headline, but that isn't really new. Though the World Cup's ratings grew 10 percent over 2002, not much has changed. Reuters could have dragged out that headline in 2002, 1998, and for virtually every other year in which the World Cup ran in the same year as the Super Bowl.
What we do know is this: Soccer is a big event. The World Cup is popular. The Super Bowl is also a big game. Advertisers in the U.S. can associate themselves with both. And Reuters has a great headline writer.