Posted by: olymponomics | July 27, 2012

Don’t believe the hype: over-estimation of the TV audience of major events

Much like the economic impact of the Olympics, the size of the global TV audience for the Games tend to be vastly over-estimated and subject to little verification (for a notable exception, see the studies from Futures Sport + Entertainment who put the number for the Beijing Olympics at just under a billion total viewers (with an average audience of 593 million viewers). FIFA’s estimates of viewers for the Football World Cup are prone to similar over-estimation, inflating the worth of the event to advertisers and providing some sort of political legitimacy for host governments and organizers. This contrasts, of course, with the under-estimation of costs. For London 2012, there have been predictions, from LOCOG and crisis-prone cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt, of more than four billion viewers  – remarkable given that just around 1.2 billion households in the world are estimated to own a television. In view of this, and the evidence from Beijing, such estimates seem fanciful – revealing the degree to which hype about mega-events can often override hard facts and scientific evidence.

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