Europe 1 with AFP // photo credit: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP 11:04 am, June 20, 2023, modified at 11:05 am, June 20, 2023

The last football World Cup in Qatar was not so boycotted, as had been announced. The audiences recorded by Arcom surpass those of the previous edition and allowed the TF1 channel to generate a turnover of 151.1 million euros during the event.

The World Cup in Qatar this autumn was a success for TV: six out of ten French people followed at least one match, which boosted the advertising revenues of the channels, according to a study by Arcom published Monday. The course of the France team, defeated in the final on penalties by Argentina, has "generated larger audiences" than the 2018 edition, which it had won, notes the audiovisual regulator. These data are of "particular interest", says Arcom. Indeed, this World Cup was "played for the first time at the end of autumn for climatic reasons", and its organization in Qatar had aroused "calls for boycott".

From November 20 to December 18, 59% of French people watched or listened to at least one match live, and 8% in replay. These figures come from an online survey conducted in January by Ifop for this study, on a sample of 2,102 French people over 15 years old. A quarter (27%) of respondents said they had followed absolutely nothing of the World Cup, no matches, no summaries, no reports. But it is mainly by "disinterest in competition" (78% of these respondents), much more than by desire to boycott (17% of these "non-consumers", or 5% of the French). All this was beneficial to the channels that broadcast the competition, the free TF1 (28 matches including all those of the Blues) and the paid beIN Sports (all the matches).

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151.1 million in revenue for TF1

The World Cup allowed TF1 "to reach audience levels well above the average audience it usually achieves", with, for example, an average audience share of 22.7% in the 16h-19h segment in November-December 2022, against 15.8% in 2021. This has had "a distinctly positive effect (...) in terms of advertising revenue". "TF1 alone totals 151.1 million euros in gross revenue over the entire competition (excluding sponsorships and digital), an increase of 37% compared to 2018 (110.5 million euros gross)," according to the study, which is based on data provided by analyst Kantar.

Finally, the seven matches of the Blues were more followed than in 2018, with 15.7 million viewers on average against 13.7 million, according to figures from Médiamétrie cited by the study. As announced in December, the final even set an "all-time audience record" for French TV (24.1 million people on TF1). An observation to put into perspective: Médiamétrie took into account the audience achieved in bars or hotels, which was not the case for previous World Cups.