The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in spectacular fashion with Russia thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0. However, the slightly underwhelming opening fixture meant ratings across Europe couldn’t match the opening of the 2014 tournament, which kicked off in Sao Paulo with Brazil versus Croatia.
The main reason that the opening fixture drew less figures than four years ago was the fact that it aired during the day, rather than in a primetime slot.
In the UK, the opening ceremony aired on ITV, sans Robbie Williams middle-finger salute, was watched by just over 1.5M viewers. The match itself was watched by an average of over 4M viewers with a share just below 40%, peaking with over 5M viewers as Russia ran rampant in the second half. However, this was well below the 8.2M viewers that tuned in to see Brazil beat Croatia four years ago. That game peaked with over 12M viewers. However, this year’s match was broadly in line with the 2010 World Cup opener in South Africa, which drew 4.2M viewers in a 3 PM kick off.
In France, TF1’s coverage of the opening ceremony was seen by 2.4M viewers for a 34.3 share. Kick-off between Saudi Arabia and Russia was at 5 PM local when 4M tuned in for a 36.3 share, according to Mediametrie figures. Overall, TF1 was up four points over its average across the day. It’s tough to compare this to 2014 given the opening that year was played in primetime with 8.7M viewers and 46.5% of the audience for Brazil v Croatia.
Spain’s Telecinco had 2.8M viewers for the match yesterday with a 27.1 share of the audience. But it was later in the day that things really heated up when Supervivientes, the local version of Survivor, set a new record with a finale grabbing a 35 share and 4.2M viewers.
Folks in Germany are following closely, particularly given Die Mannschaft are the reigning champions. On ARD from 5 PM, 9.5M were in front of their TV sets for a 51 share. Local reports put that at 52.1 in the key demo. The opening match of the 2014 tournament between Brazil and Croatia was seen by 15.9M at 10 PM.