Manchester set a club television audience world record
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Manchester City's Yaya Toure competes for the ball with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. AP Photo/Matt Dunham
An estimated 650 million television viewers worldwide watched the Man City-Man United blockbuster at Etihad Stadium yesterday, City’s home ground.
A staggering stat for a club game, which Man City won 1-0 to edge in front of their bitter rivals on top of the EPL table with just two rounds to go.
City hasn’t won the title for 44 long years, while United has worn the crown for 12 of the 26 years Sir Alex Ferguson has been in charge.
Taking the 650 million as read, as there are no foolproof methods of accuracy, that makes a club game the world record holder of viewers for a non-international sporting event.
And that’s significant.
The most viewed sporting event in history during a multi-day event is the 4.7 billion who watched the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at some stage, the equivalent of 70% of the world’s population.
An estimated 984 million watched the opening ceremony in Beijing, and 778 million took in the closing ceremony – both records for a daily international sporting event.
The 2006 FIFA World Cup final between Italy and France is next in the pecking order of television viewers with 715 million.
Then the Manchester intra-city shootout with 650 million.
And surprisingly, cricket gets a look-in with the final of the 2011 World Cup between India and Pakistan with 400 million. Although it would be safe to say the figure wouldn’t be nearly so high had India failed to reach the decider.
To put sport in perspective to world events, the live Elvis Presley “Aloha from Hawaii” program in 1973 and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year both attracted a billion viewers.
The Prince Charles-Diana wedding 900 million viewers, the Diana funeral 850 million, while the Michael Jackson memorial service attracted 800 million.
And the first walking on the moon by Neil Armstrong 530 million – a staggering stat for as long ago as 1969 which was 14% of the world’s population at the time with far fewer television sets.
The Australian sporting television audience record is the 4.05 million who watched the Lleyton Hewitt-Marat Safin final of the 2005 Australian Open.
Next best the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Sydney between the Wallabies and England with 4.02 million, and the 3.56 million watching the 2006 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Melbourne.
The next two were successive AFL grand finals – in 2005 between the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles (3.39 million) and the Eagles-Swans decider in 2006 with 3.14 million.
It all goes to prove sporting television has not only improved dramatically and technically, but the worldwide coverage has become blanket. And invariably live.
Let’s face it, sport gives a whole lot more pleasure and excitement than news coverage.