There could be a problem on the not-too-distant horizon for streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ as well as the more traditional small screen companies, not to mention the already troubled cinema industry. The football World Cup (2022) could land a hammer blow to an industry that is already in flux, at the exact time when it would usually be experiencing its biggest growth and busiest weeks. Typically held in the summer months, which tend to be quieter for the streaming services, this year the world cup is being held in the winter, just before Christmas. A huge swathe of the population will be glued to their phones and TV’s but, rather than viewing the latest series of Stranger Things, they will instead be checking out the latest free bets at Oddschecker and watching England’s progress to the latter stages of the competition.
The recent news that Disney had overtaken Netflix in terms of number of subscribers would have come as no surprise to industry experts. Netflix has been haemorrhaging subscriptions of late, while Disney + continues to pump out first-class series that appeal to a wider range of viewers. The World Cup will adversely affect all alternative forms of entertainment, but it is likely to hit those already struggling a lot harder than the services which are still growing. Platforms like Netflix could see the most rapid decline.
When is the World Cup?
The tournament starts on Sunday, November 20th, with games coming thick and fast every day right through to December 6th. Then there is a two-day break before the quarter-finals kick off on December 9th and 10th, followed by the semi-finals on December 13th and 14th, the third/fourth place play-off on December 17th, before it all comes to a climax with the final on December 18th.
What times will the games be?
As well as the condensed format of the World Cup, which will see games taking place practically every day during the competition, the matches are also spread throughout the day. The early group stage matches will take place at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm (UK time). The final group games will be staged at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, with the round of sixteen, and quarter-finals following suit. The semi-finals are at 7:00 pm, with the third/fourth playoff match and the final both taking place at 3:00 pm. This will leave very little space for alternative screen time.
What Channels is it on?
All World Cup matches will be on free-to-air terrestrial television in the UK, with games being shared between the BBC and ITV. Schedules are yet to be announced, but it is likely that if England does progress, both stations will show the latter-stage England games simultaneously.
Which Home Nations have qualified?
As well as England, only Wales has qualified from the home nations. The Republic of Ireland also failed to reach the tournament.
How many people will watch the tournament?
A lot. The non-England matches will get a significant number of viewers. Those numbers will obviously be larger for the more high-profile teams and clashes, as well as those played in the 7.00 pm slots. England games will very likely get huge figures.
Just in case you are in any doubt about just how much of an impact the tournament will have, let’s look at the figures from the last World Cup in 2018. 26.5 million people watched England in the semi-final match against Croatia on ITV. That is 40 per cent of the population and 81 per cent of everyone who was watching television at the time. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Another 4.3 million watched via ITV Hub, and none of these figures include anyone watching the match in a pub or public place, of which there were many. That wasn’t a one-off either; the penalty shootout against Colombia earlier in the tournament was viewed by only slightly less, at 23.6 million.
Last summer, the Euros were watched worldwide by a total of 5 billion people, while the women’s euros just a few weeks ago broke numerous viewing records, with 17.4 million tuning in during extra time to see England beat Germany in the final.
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