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World Cup Fever creates a major Opportunity for Mobile Broadband Operators

by Sue Rudd | Jun 05, 2014

Recent Surveys indicate that Mobile Operators have an opportunity to promote new premium Video service bundles for fans of World Cup football, ‘futbol’, ‘footie’ or ‘soccer’ as Americans call it.

A new independent survey of 2,200 consumers carried out by Censuswide for Openwave Mobility in three European countries showed that fans are between 2 and 4 times as likely to view at least some of the games on mobile devices in 2014 compared to 2010. There seems to be a correlation between viewing interest and fans whose teams are the likely winners! 43% of Spanish, 34% of German and 21% of British subscribers indicate that they would be happy to pay their mobile operator for premium quality World Cup footage on mobile devices

As World Cup excitement builds fans are figuring out how and where to watch the games and surveys all indicate the importance of video quality as well as price.

During December 2013 Strategy Analytics surveyed over 500 mobile phone users in each of six mobile markets - China, France, Germany, Spain, UK and USA- about the consumption of media services on their phones. This research found that:

  • 72% of respondents claimed to watch video on their mobile phones - 15% do so daily, 29% weekly and 28% less frequently
  • higher video quality and 4G networks were most likely to increase video consumption for occasional video users with ad-supported video the most popular new business model option.

Additional results published in March 2014 ‘Larger Screens, Better Video Quality and 4G LTE Essential to Stimulating Greater Mobile Video Usage’ reinforce the importance of a quality viewing experience.

Operators have been gearing up for several years to support the demand to watch the World Cup on mobile devices – both smartphones and tablets. In 2010 GSMA published a report ‘Mobile Telecommunications Networks for the 2014 World Cup’ that outlined preparations for the event. Most Recently Telefonica followed their Content Delivery Networking deal with Akamai with a majority investment in Digital Plus Pay TV that has rights to football broadcasts. In April Telefonica announced that Movistar TV had exclusive broadcast rights to qualifying matches for the future 2018 FIFA World Cup. And in May Telefónica launched Movistar Fusión TV a complete telecommunications services and television content offering with mobile, TV and phone access.

Last week TripAdvisor in turn announced a deal with Telefonica to cover its 18 markets globally including Telefonica’s 323 million mobile customers in Europe and Latin America to provide a travel application for traveling fans. And in Brazil Mobily is offering very special roaming rates for post-paid roamers traveling to Brazil during FIFA World cup and roaming on Telefonica/VIVO Network.

Around the world Mobile operators are looking at how to leverage sales with World Cup promotions.

In the US ESPN is planning to deliver very comprehensive coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on digital platforms with a new ESPN FC App. for Apple iOS and Android Smartphones; and Verizon is promoting Tablets to Brazilian supporters with videos for Portuguese speaking customers.


The mobile operator’s challenge is to make the mobile experience as good as home viewing and make the stadium experience even better, so that even in the stadium fans are watching replays on their mobile devices – and uploading their own images of game highlights and ‘selfies’ with their friends. To ensure a premium experience these operators need to offer not only broadcasts of the games and related content, but also end-to-end optimized delivery and management so that mobile fans get a great experience even when lots of others are watching.

This creates a great opportunity for mobile video optimization vendors like Openwave Mobility to offer mechanisms that help mobile operators deliver a great viewing experience over mobile broadband for what is likely to be the most ‘mobile watched’ World Cup ever.

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