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World Cup Winners and Losers, By the Numbers

2010 World Cup

In case you weren't one of the 700 million-plus fans to watch the World Cup Finals yesterday, Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time. But the España soccer stars weren't the only winners—and certainly the Holland footballers were not the only losers. Companies around the world were competing to increase brand awareness and boost profits—here's our list of the winners and losers.

It's estimated that FIFA earned $3.4 billion for the television and commercial rights to the World Cup, and some say it could be the most watched tournament ever. Of course, what may be FIFA's most important task is increasing its presence and popularity in the United States. Every World Cup, many wonder whether America will finally be converted into a soccer-loving country, and indeed, this may have been the year. According to Nielsen, around 19.4 million Americans watched the U.S. play against Ghana in June, making the round-of-16 match the highest-rated soccer game ever in the U.S. for an American team. The impressive game numbers represent more people than watched the Kentucky Derby, the final round of the Masters, the Daytona 500, and, on average, last year's prime-time World Series games.

So will this be the tourney that at last brings FIFA fever to the U.S.? While overall viewership was up 41% since the 2006 tournament, and almost 25 million Americans watched the World Cup Finals (only 3.2 million less than for Game 7 of the recent NBA Finals), the latter figure isn't necessarily a good thing, according to former Dutch soccer star and World Cup announcer Ruud Gullit. "The game was terrible—it was not good," Gullit said yesterday after the match. "It was boring—this has not been a good advert for soccer today."

The Big Brands
The World Cup's big brand winners were Nike, Adidas, and Visa. Visa reported a 74% jump in transactions in South Africa, which helped bring more than $200 million to their economy.

Adidas, which was the official sponsor of the World Cup, has been in a battle with Nike throughout the tournament, but it looks like both brands came out on top. "This has been our best World Cup ever," said Nike brand co-president Charlie Denson, who boasted that soccer ball sales were up 40% since last quarter, with their Emerald brand leaping more than 55% in sales. Denson also said that Nike's order book for the next six months went up around 20% since last year.

Not to be outdone, Adidas sold roughly 6.5 million replica jerseys during South Africa's World Cup—more than double what they sold during Germany's 2006 games—and 13 million soccer balls, more than Adidas has ever sold.

Twitter averages around 750 tweets per second. During the World Cup, this number peaked at 3,085 per second, setting a record high for the San Francisco startup. Analysts had estimated that Twitter use during the tournament would "explode," but shooting up to around 3,000 tweets-per-second on average throughout the tournament—triple Twitter's typical rate—must've had Biz Stone and company abuzz with excitement.

A Big Bet for South Africa
South Africa sunk around $5.6 billion into the World Cup, an enormous investment for any nation, especially one so impoverished. While president Jacob Zuma predicts there will be a "good return on investment," that's not necessarily the case for local businesses. According to Bloomberg, South Africa's small- and medium-sized businesses didn't see the jump in sales they had expected (and were promised) from the World Cup. Instead, it seems they were the unfortunate losers of the tournament, with reports so far showing they have been "disappointed" by the outcome.


Ironically, it's probably not the country that wagered the most on the tournament but the bet takers themselves who will benefit most from the World Cup. Sports betting operations such as Ladbrokes and Coral reported more than $2 billion worth of wagers throughout the Cup.

[Homepage feature image via flickr/St. Groove]