Iceland made their World Cup debut on Saturday against Lionel Messi’s Argentina and the viewership figures in the country showed how much it mattered to the Icelanders. According to the figures by Football Association of Iceland, 99.6% of the country’s population of about 335,000 who were watching TV had their eyes glued on one channel that telecasted the Group D match.
After stealing everyone’s hearts at Euro 2016, the previous record for a sporting event, where they gave a hard time to Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, Iceland made their debut at World Cup against 2014 runner-ups Argentina. The team as well as their fans, with their interesting profiles and stories, have garnered a lot of interest from the entire world. From the Viking Clap to the players having side jobs, the story of Iceland keeps getting better.
“The 60 percent rating with a 99.6 percent share beats the previous record of 58.8 percent rating reached at the Euros 2016 in a game against England,” Valgeir Vilhjalmsson, who is head of media research for public service broadcaster RUV, told Reuters.
“It´s also interesting to know that last Saturday this game got a 58 percent rating among women and 62 percent among men – football has never been this popular with women,” he added.
The game did not break the overall viewing record, which is a 100 percent rating held by an annual New Year’s Eve comedy show that was achieved in 2016.
— Knattspyrnusambandið (@footballiceland) 18 June 2018
What were the other 0.4% watching you ask? 0.3 percent of them watched a re-run of cooking programme “The Great British Bake-Off” and 0.1 percent tuned in to watch a repeat of weight loss show “The Biggest Loser”.
Iceland kickstarted their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Argentina, who took the lead courtesy Sergio Aguero before Finbogason equalised just two minutes later. Lionel Messi had the chance to put Argentina in the lead in the second half but he missed his third penalty in national colours while Iceland defenders hounded the Argentine attackers to ensure that they do not end up on the losing side.
Passion for the sport is expected to continue when Iceland take on Nigeria in the second group game on Friday. Financial institution Landsbankinn announced that it will shut its offices and customer service centre at 1400 GMT (7.30 PM IST) to allow staff an hour to get home to watch the game, which kicks off at 1500 GMT (8.30 PM IST).
(With inputs from Reuters)