Majority of UK plans to watch the World Cup, but interests vary significantly

EY’s Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecoms (TMT) Partner, Ioannis Melas, reflects on the findings from EY TMT’s recent FIFA World Cup survey. The survey of 2,000 UK consumers identifies distinct viewing habits, attitudes and preferences towards watching the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to grip the nation and will see millions of supporters opt to join friends, family and the general public for a shared viewing experience. With three in five (59%) of UK consumers switching on to watch at least some of the tournament, is the TMT sector ready for the changing landscape of media consumption and the modern take the FIFA World Cup is having on traditional viewing?

TV rules the roost

Advances in technology, virtual reality and enhanced viewing experiences are a hot topic in media and entertainment. Organisations are going head to head to provide consumers with the most unique and innovative viewing experience, but, is technology the solution when it comes to the FIFA World Cup?

Our findings show that football fans have an indifferent reaction to new technology, with only 13% agreeing that some sort of virtual reality or augmented reality will enhance the viewing experience.

Evidently, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Despite recent trends in favour of portable devices to view content, the majority of fans (88%) will be returning to the TV to watch matches this FIFA World Cup. Compare this to only 3% of consumers who will choose smartphones, tablets and laptops to watch matches and highlights, bucking the recent industry trends.  

The UK market is increasingly hungry for innovation, investment in new technology and the next best thing. However, as our results demonstrate, the secret to enhancing the customer experience starts with aligning to your audience, improving the familiar viewing experience and catering for an audience that values the shared viewing experience.

Sports fanatic or socialite?

Now the FIFA World Cup is well underway, many sports fanatics will be devoting themselves to a full month of football madness, all leading up to the final on 15 July. Our latest research illustrates that 43% of football fanatics prefer focusing on the game, watching matches at home alone. However, for many the FIFA World Cup is a social experience and a great opportunity to get together with friends and family.

According to our survey, by far the most preferred way to watch matches is at home or at a friend’s house with others (57%). This should mean a real boom to supermarkets in terms of food and drink sales -and this isn’t the only industry due for success as a result of the FIFA World Cup. 19% of UK fans plan to head to pubs or bars to watch the tournament, meaning profits should sore and so, weather permitting, we should expect a summer of World Cup parties.  

Raising the stakes

If technology isn’t always the answer for an enhanced FIFA World Cup viewing experience, what are viewers engaged by? For many fans, betting is the answer.

Our latest research reveals that those who regularly gamble, are also the biggest sports fans, boding well for betting companies during this football fanatic period. This is particularly prevalent in 18-34 year olds, of which 55% might bet on matches this year, compared to 14% of those aged over 55.

What now?

It is clear that once again, technology and media and entertainment companies need to be putting the spotlight on how they can meet the demands of today’s empowered consumer. Consumer attitudes and preferences are constantly changing, with a number of different personalities to cater for and the TMT market needs to keep pace. As our research demonstrates, in regards to the FIFA World Cup, this means thinking about incorporating the social aspect of the tournament and perfecting the quality of the familiar viewing experience.

The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.