Viewership battle: AFCON 2024 vs. Super Bowl 58

  • Over the month the African Cup of Nations football tournament was held, over 2 billion viewers worldwide tuned in to see the games.
  • Meanwhile, more people tuned in to watch the NFL Super Bowl than those that tuned into the moon landing of 1969.
  • The Super Bowl took place only one day after the AFCON final, with both events celebrating massive viewership milestones.

With a home-field advantage, Cote d’Ivoire claimed the prize as the top football team in Africa when they clutched a 2 – 1 victory over Nigeria’s Super Eagles in the finals of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) tournament held on 11th February. Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana saw a comfortable bronze spot to close out the tournament with renewed hope for the future of South African football.

American football was also being celebrated, as the 58th Super Bowl in history saw the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers just one day after the finals of the AFCON.

While it isn’t fair to compare the viewership of a sport that is only played in one country to the enormity of importance African football holds for Africans on the continent and the wider international diaspora, it is worth noting that the 2024 edition of AFCON was by far and away the most-watched ever.

According to Semafor, citing CAF president Partrick Motsepe, over 2 billion people worldwide tuned into to watch the AFCON over the month the tournament was running.

This represents a massive gain compared to the last time the tournament was run, in 2022 where its primary broadcaster celebrated over 65 million viewers across the month, according to a report from Business Day Nigeria.

People from more than 180 countries tuned in to watch this year’s AFCON, undoubtedly the biggest in the tournament’s history. Broadcasters the world over secured rights, from Sky, Canal+, BBC, MultiChoice and more.

Estimates currently set out that the CAF will earn around $75 million just on sponsorship revenue from this year’s competition. This is not taking into account ticket sales, merchandising or other revenue streams.

One reason for the boom in viewership for AFCON 2024, analysts believe, is the effect of social media. Major football accounts like the UEFA Champions League posted about the AFCON.

In South Africa, Bafana Bafana became the top trend near the end of the tournament during the team’s matches.

More people watched the Super Bowl than the moon landing (in the US)

In another broadcasting milestone the world away, the American National Football League (NFL) celebrated its biggest Super Bowl yet, with more than 123 million people tuning in to watch the final game of the series. Unlike the AFCON 2024 tournament, the American football season that ends in the Super Bowl takes place over 18 weeks, starting in September. It is unknown what average viewership the entire season had since it began.

What is known is that the finals between the Chiefs and 49ers was watched by more Americans than those who watched the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. It is believed that the Taylor Swift effect may have boosted viewership to such extreme levels, as the singer-songwriter was present at the show to support her winning boyfriend and Chiefs team member Travis Kelce, whose name I only know because of his association with Swift. Swift’s attendance at previous games did increase viewership by significant amounts.

Other celebrities were also present at the Super Bowl, and it featured a half-time concert performance by Usher and Alicia Keys.

With companies like Netflix spending billions to get live sports/sports entertainment on their platform, we can see that if anything, the dominance of sports in broadcasting has only increased.


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