First of all, the Twitter stats: the Brazil vs Chile match on Saturday became the most tweeted event of all time on the social network. A total of 16.4 million tweets were sent out during the match, many of which were no doubt embellished by the flag hashtags Twitter has introduced for the event. After extra time and a penalty shoot-out, Brazil squeezed through to the next round.
A tweet sent out by @TwitterData highlighted some of the peak moments in the game: 199,731 tweets-per-minute at the end of normal time, 239,219 TPM as Neymar put Brazil in the lead during the shoot-out and 388,985 TPM as the game ended. That figure puts the match ahead of Superbowl 48 (382,000 tweets-per-minute) as the most tweeted sporting event to date. Whether later games can create enough drama to set a new record remains to be seen.
The Superbowl was edged out in terms of online streaming activity too. Thursday’s game between the United States and Germany was a record event for ESPN’s online channel, with WatchESPN attracting a total of 3.2 million viewers during the match. The maximum number of viewers watching at any one time was 1.7 million, and overall the event averaged an audience of 1,49,769 viewers-per-minute. That tops the 1.1 million peak concurrent viewers who watched the Superbowl on Fox, though the soccer event still lags way behind in terms of terrestrial TV viewing.
The statistics are an interesting barometer of global take-up of Internet access and the growth of social media as a ‘second screen’ experience, something Twitter is keen to promote. When South Africa hosted the last World Cup in 2010, the digital landscape looked substantially different, and 2018 could be a different story altogether.