NEW YORK —
The World Cup is the planet's most widely viewed sporting event. According to FIFA, which organizes the tournament, an estimated 909.6 million viewers watched at least one minute of the final 2010 game when Spain beat the Netherlands. In comparison, nearly 900 million people watched at least part of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. On Twitter, more than 24.9 million tweets were sent out during this year's Super Bowl, up from 13.7 million just two years earlier.
Because it takes place over several weeks, marketers are gearing up for "a marathon, not a sprint," said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst for research firm eMarketer.
"Developing countries will be a key target for global brands," she said. "They will work hard to capture the attention of soccer fans in Latin America, Asia, Africa. The challenges (include the fact) that all the games are taking place in one place and the customers and marketers are in multiple time zones. This will require around the clock marketing."
For fans traveling to Brazil for the game and hoping to tweet and post about it on Facebook, the country's mobile communications services might pose their own challenge. Dropped voice calls are common even without the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans descending on the country. Accessing the Internet can be incredibly slow, and there's even some worry about network blackouts.
"World Cup visitors won't be able to communicate the way they want to," Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor at Rio de Janeiro's Federal Fluminense University whose research focuses on Brazil's preparations for the World Cup and Olympics. "Instagram, Twitter, social media will not function at world class levels but at Brazilian levels, so people visiting Brazil will experience the frustrations we face every day."