Television coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ was the most extensive to date with 376 channels showing the event compared to 232 in 2002. What is more, the 2006 event was aired in a total 43,600 broadcasts across 214 countries and territories in 2006, generating total coverage of 73,072 hours - an increase of 76 percent on the 2002 event (41,435 hours) and a 148 per cent increase on 1998. This means that if all the 2006 coverage were shown on just one channel, it would take over eight years to broadcast non-stop.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany had a total cumulative television audience of 26.29 billion (24.2 billion in-home and 2.1 billion out-of-home viewers). This is on a par with the 1998 event, which like 2006 was also staged in Europe, but a little below the 26.4 billion in-home viewers noted for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan. Unsurprisingly, the most-watched match was the final Italy v France with a global cumulative audience of 715.1 million viewers.

This 2006 report was commissioned by FIFA's television partner, Infront Sports & Media, and compiled by Sponsorship Intelligence, a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe. It confirms the competition's status as the world's most popular event that has sustained robust worldwide viewing levels at a time when most programme genres are suffering a downturn in market share. FIFA has adopted a more rigorous approach as regards the compilation of TV figures and this report is consequently based on more audited data than ever before.

Asia was once again the region to contribute the highest share of television audience with its 8.28 billion in-home viewers accounting for 32.2% of the global total. However, the total cumulative audience fell by 25.7 per cent in 2006. This decline in viewer numbers is not surprising when viewed in the correct context. The 2002 event was staged in two Asian territories (Japan and South Korea) and kick-off times for live matches were consequently during prime viewing hours across most of the region whereas live matches in 2006 were shown mostly after midnight. Secondly, China - which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the total global audience - qualified for the finals for a historic first time in 2002 but failed to qualify in 2006.

These circumstances explain the nine per cent fall in the global cumulative audience in 2006.
By contrast, Europe - where the matches were broadcast during prime time viewing - registered a 29.6% increase in viewers over 2002. While this undoubtedly reflects the more accessible timing of matches for the European audience compared to 2002, it nevertheless confirms the unparalleled stature of the event in this highly developed and media-saturated region.

The United States produced some very encouraging scores that underline football's growing popularity in the country. The cumulative audience jumped 38.9% over 2002, coverage surged 221% to 1,889 hours and the number of broadcasters doubled to 13 in 2006. Univision's broadcast of Argentina v Mexico was the most-viewed sports telecast in the history of US Spanish-language television with 6.7 million viewers.

" TV coverage in 214 countries generated over 73,000 hours of dedicated programming, a significant 76.4% increase over 2002.
" The 2006 FIFA World Cup produced 43,600 dedicated television broadcasts worldwide.
" An increasingly fragmented TV market saw 2006 FIFA World Cup broadcasts on 376 channels, a vast increase over the 232 broadcasting channels in 2002.
" The increased fragmentation of television broadcasting has also lead to a shift in the proportion of overall coverage represented by each of the broadcast types. In 2002, almost 70 per cent of all TV coverage was of live action whereas just over half of all coverage of 2006 FIFA World Cup was live.
" A cumulative audience, in-home and out-of-home, of 26.29 billion viewers.
" Asia contributed the highest share of the overall cumulative television audience, 8.28 billion in-home viewers, 34.2% of the global total.
" The largest single market contributor was China, which accounted for 3.98 billion viewers, followed by Brazil, Vietnam and Germany.
" European cumulative audience was 5.33 billion in 2006, up 29.6 per cent, with host Germany and winner Italy accounting for 31.5 per cent of the region's total.
" 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage across Africa saw a massive 131.5 per cent increase over 2002, up from 7,475 hours to 17,301.
" The Final between Italy and France was followed by 0.8 million more French viewers than watched France triumph in 1998.
" In Europe there were 76.3% more broadcast hours than in 2002.
" Total hours of 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage increased over 2002 in all regions, most significantly across Africa, Oceania, Asia and Europe.
" Each of the 64 matches received on average 858 hours of dedicated coverage and drew an audience of 259.9 million viewers.
" The top match, in terms of coverage and audience, was the Final between Italy and France, totalling 1,882 hours of coverage and 607.9 million in-home viewers.
" The highest television rating, of 56.6 per cent, was recorded in the Netherlands for their national side's defeat to Portugal in the Round of 16.
" The highest single audience was recorded in China at 71.5 million viewers, for the group match between Japan and Croatia.
" Hosts of the next FIFA World Cup, South Africa, enjoyed more 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany coverage than any other African market, with the cable/satellite network, SuperSport, showing a total of 1,627 hours of coverage on its five channels.
" The cumulative audience in Brazil increased from 1.35 billion in 2002 to 1.72 billion in 2006 (+27.8 per cent) despite the fact that the 2002 FIFA World Cup was won by Brazil and 2006 the national team were knocked out in the quarter final stages.
" In Northern America & Caribbean there was 39.1 per cent more coverage - 10,580 hours in 2006 versus 7,605 hours in 2002.
" The cumulative audience in Northern America & Caribbean was 829.1 million viewers -- this represents a 76.8 per cent increase over the 2002 total.