Date
17 December 2017
Four years ago, the main event in World Cup broadcasting was television. This year the best seat in the house could in front of an app. Photo: Bloomberg
Four years ago, the main event in World Cup broadcasting was television. This year the best seat in the house could in front of an app. Photo: Bloomberg

Having a World Cup ball online

The World Cup is much more than a soccer event. Since the 1970 finals held in Mexico — the focus of the first TV mega broadcast — it’s been a barometer of business trends in the sporting and entertainment worlds, according to a Hong Kong Economic Journal commentary Thursday

This time all eyes will be on apps. In addition to its traditional paid-TV broadcasts, Television Broadcasts Ltd. (00511.HK) is offering a HK$450 (US$57.80) app that will let viewers watch World Cup matches on non-TV devices, including computers, handsets and tablets.

Viewers might have more of a ball watching the action on a 60-inch TV than a mobile phone or a laptop, but younger generations are used to watching content on tablets in bed, bumping the bigger screen in the living room from top viewing spot, the report said.

Another barrier to pay TV is the cost and wait of getting the World Cup service. Fans might have to spend several thousand dollars, sign a two-year contract and wait for an installer to come to her home to get into the game. Up against that, a HK$450 app can sound like a better deal.

Regular broadcasters elsewhere are also getting into the online act, with China Central Television and Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) acquiring the mainland online broadcasting rights for matches, ITV securing them for Britain and ESPN gaining them in the United States, the report added.

Advertisers, too, are turning from the TV to the internet, particularly social media, to promote their products. World Cup sponsor Nike, Inc. has launched a five-minute animated online mini-movie called “The Last Game” which has so far attracted more than 100 million views.

At the same time, Adidas AG global brand marketing director Tom Ramsden said online’s share of advertising spending will exceed the 20 percent it accounted for in 2010 and might outstrip the money spent on television. Ramsden said TV ads are no longer a must and social media might be the most popular medium ever for watching the World Cup.

Beneficiaries of the event could include snack shops like the 759 chain, taxis ferrying groggy workers the office the morning after, and small gift shops with items boyfriends can buy to compensate girlfriends for their absence over the next month.

But restaurants at the mid to top end of town as well as theaters and women’s stores could suffer as couples have less time to spend together on traditional dating pastimes, it said.

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