Football Viewership Statistics in South Africa


Football is a big deal across the African continent, and its popularity echoes much of the viewership we see on a broader scale. Perhaps just as interesting as the football viewership stats in South Africa are the differing methods people use to tune into their favourite sports. South Africa has a population similar to England, which many consider the home of modern football, but the sporting culture in South Africa encompasses a few different elements when compared to England.

Euro 2024

This summer, the top international teams on the European continent battle it out against each other in the 17th edition of the European Championships. Given that it could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last Euros, many football fans in Germany will be keen to get a glimpse of one of the greatest players of all time one last time before the curtains close on a magical career.

He’s already scored 14 goals in the competition, which is more than any other player in the tournament’s history. Over 300 million people are expected to tune in to watch this year’s tournament, just like they did for the final back in Euro 2020. The AFCON is a huge deal too and is the second most popular international football tournament in SA other than the World Cup. 

Millions of South Africans will undoubtedly tune in to watch the drama unfold. The Euros is one of the most anticipated events on the football calendar; for many fans, it is second only to the World Cup. So, while there won’t be specialist fan zones like there are for the World Cup, sports channels in South Africa are anticipating big numbers throughout the next few weeks.

Breaking down the viewing figures

Market research from the previous World Cup indicates that over 70% of South Africans tuned in to watch the tournament — a staggering number estimated to be around 40 million people. The success of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a watershed moment in the history of African football, and the continued interest in international and European domestic leagues is fuelling interest and fandom right across SA.

The penchant for football is evident when you take a stroll around any of the major South African cities; Liverpool and Manchester United jerseys are spotted regularly alongside Chelsea, Manchester City and even teams like Everton, who have developed a South African fanbase due to their connection with SA footballing icon Steven Pienaar back in the 2000s and early 2010s. 

While the World Cup is by far the most popular football viewing market in SA, this title belongs to the English Premier League domestically. Statistics show that around 12 million people tune in to watch Premier League games every weekend, which mirrors the activity across the continent.

A growing number of platforms

Football viewership has operated across a far more diverse set of platforms than it did in the late 20th century. It was far more difficult to watch football back then, with few television channels being able to afford the rights in SA to broadcast the top European leagues and far fewer people having access to home television sets and the internet. 

Obviously, this has changed significantly. For instance, mobile phone ownership has increased from less than 5% in the early 21st century to over 90% based on figures collated last year. This enables South Africans to keep up to date with the latest news, watch football highlights on streaming sites like YouTube, and find local locations where they can watch their favourite team.

Final thoughts

The sporting culture in SA is one of the most diverse anywhere on the continent. Although we’re a football-mad nation, the recent success of the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup and the popularity of cricket both attest to this. 

Football will continue profoundly impacting sporting culture in South Africa; you only need to look around the city whenever a big game is on or speak to taxi drivers or people on the street — they all know the big teams. It’s hard to come across any sports fans in South Africa who don’t have a good knowledge of the top European domestic leagues and the world’s top players. 

Over the next few years, we expect there to be more options available for people to watch the sport. More people each year will move away from traditional TV and opt for streaming services or watching highlights on websites like YouTube. However, from a statistical perspective, we strongly suspect there won’t be too much of a change from the current figures.

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