France celebrating their World Cup win.

During the World Cup, we wrote about how Fox’s ratings struggles had led them to offer some make-goods to various advertisers. At the time Fox was putting a positive spin on the 2018 World Cup thanks to a large revenue haul, and now it looks even better thanks to a boost from out-of-home viewing numbers.

Via Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick:

Millions of people watched the World Cup from the comfort of their own homes. Millions also watched at bars, hotels, restaurants or at a friend’s house — enough to boost the overall viewership by 21 percent, Fox said, citing research by Nielsen.

Those additional viewers, along with extra commercial opportunities provided by overtime and penalty kicks, means “advertisers were fully delivered,” said Mike Petruzzi, senior vice president of ad sales at Fox Sports. It’s also a testament to the social nature of World Cup watching: The so-called out-of-home audience usually hovers around 10 percent for sporting events.

Out-of-home viewing has always intuitively felt like an important part of measuring the reach of a broadcast, especially for big event sports programming (the World Cup, college bowl games, the NFL playoffs, March Madness, etc.) And for a World Cup that took place mostly during weekday afternoons when a large part of the target demographic is at work, it’s even more important that Fox attempt to capture the impact of that audience.

But it’s always been a tough market to measure, and certainly a tough market to measure with any certainty, especially from an advertiser’s perspective. But while people in bars might not be watching commercials, Fox says that’s not really the main segment of the out-of-home audience:

Advertisers often complain that people watching in bars and restaurants aren’t paying attention to commercials. Fox, however, says that only 25 percent of its out-of-home World Cup viewing occurred in bars and restaurants. Most of the audience watched in places like someone else’s house, their office or at the gym.

The biggest out-of-home bump was registered during the semifinal matches, which were played on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, the England-Croatia match boosted the audience by 51 percent. The other semifinal got a 46 percent increase.

And the impact was big, both in terms of the overall numbers and in terms of Fox’s main target demographics:

The World Cup numbers show advertisers’ most desirable audience — 20- and 30-somethings — were more likely than other groups to watch in a social setting. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, out-of-home viewing boosted the audience by 28 percent.

The biggest out-of-home bump was registered during the semifinal matches, which were played on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, the England-Croatia match boosted the audience by 51 percent. The other semifinal got a 46 percent increase.

Weekday afternoon matches got a 30 percent boost overall, Fox said, when many people are at work. Not unexpectedly, the window least affected by out-of-home viewing was weekend early morning, which saw a 12 percent bump.

This is all big for Fox, which was never going to see a massive ratings bonanza in 2018 thanks to a combination of host Russia’s time zone and the USMNT’s failure to qualify. But 2018 was a solid first step towards coming out ahead by 2026, and out-of-home viewing is only going to be more important when the North American World Cup rolls around.

[Bloomberg]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.