How many people are expected to watch the World Cup?

Very few fans will be making the trip to Qatar
Very few fans will be making the trip to Qatar / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

The World Cup is the biggest stage in football and it tends to draw bigger television viewing figures than any other sporting event.

It is often the only footballing event that is enjoyed by people who do not follow football in their day-to-day lives. While this World Cup in Qatar is unlike any other for a number of reasons, the TV audiences are still going to be extremely high.

There could be more people watching from home than normal in many countries as the weather will not be suited to mass outdoor screenings, which will boost the viewing figures.

How many people will watch the World Cup?

Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas
The country has had to rapidly prepare for the World Cup / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

The 2022 Qatar World Cup is going to be the first-ever World Cup held in the Middle East and it has proved to be the most controversial to date.

From the alleged corruption involved in the awarding of the tournament, to the countries' stance on LGBTQI+ people, and the reported deaths of migrant workers while getting the tournament ready, it has not been a normal build-up to the World Cup.

Based on the projections though, this World Cup is not going to be affected when it comes to viewing figures. FIFA president Gianni Infantino said earlier this week that 5bn people are expected to tune in for the World Cup this winter.

For the 2018 tournament in Russia, the global TV audience was 3.5bn. The rise is likely down to the increasing popularity of football in countries such as Canada and the USA which have huge populations.

All-time World Cup viewing records

Mario Goetze, Andre Schuerrle, Benedikt Hoewedes, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller
Germany came out on top with an extra-time goal from Mario Gotze / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

During the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, which was contested by Argentina and Germany, 1bn people tuned in globally. That made it the most-watched sporting event in the world at the time.

The Olympics tends to beat the World Cup when it comes to overall viewing figures, but there is nothing in the sporting world which competes with a World Cup final.

It shows how rapidly the global interest in football is growing even now as it was reported that 3.572bn people watched the World Cup in 2018 which took place in Russia. That is more than half of the global population who are aged four or over.

The final between France and Croatia was watched by 1.12bn people globally. That is the most-watched World Cup to date but Qatar is set to beat it. Realistically, the 2026 World Cup will then beat that.

It is reported that at least 42 different countries are licensed to show the tournament, spanning from Canada to Liberia. The two places for fans in England to watch the World Cup are the BBC and ITV, which are both free to air. For those in Wales, S4C will be showing the games for free.