BRAZIL — In terms of online entertainment, the World Cup seemed to have it all.
There was a cannibalistic Luis Suarez. Tim Howard saving … well … everything. Sad Brazilians. And Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair.
Oh, yeah … and the actual matches, which saw the U.S. team make an inspiring run, the powerhouse Brazilians unravel in shocking fashion and the Germans ultimately capture first prize on Sunday.
The month-long spectacle also captured another prize: It’s now the biggest social event in Web history.
On Facebook, Sunday’s final between Germany and Argentina alone spurred 280 million interactions by 88 million people, according to the company. That easily surpassed the former champ, last year’s Super Bowl, with its 245 million interactions.
Things were similarly fast and furious on Twitter, where the match was inspiring more than 618,000 tweets per minute, a new record for the site. There were a total of 32.1 million tweets about the match.
Take those numbers and tack them onto the huge online engagement the tournament had already inspired and it’s a no-brainer that Brazil 2014 inspired online fandom like no event before it.
In just its first week, from June 12-18, the tournament inspired 459 million Facebook posts, likes and comments — more than this year’s Super Bowl, the Academy Awards in March and the Sochi Winter Olympics combined.
FIFA, international soccer’s ruling body, says that more than 1 billion people engaged with World Cup content through its website, social media accounts and mobile app.
The official FIFA app became the biggest sports-event app ever, with 28 million downloads, 451 million Facebook users were reached by FIFA’s page and its Instagram account rocketed from 42,000 followers to nearly 1 million in 31 days.
“This has been the first truly mobile and social World Cup,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said. “The 1 billion attendance in the global stadium created the sense of togetherness the World Cup brings and the shared excitement that digital platforms offer.”
Certainly, the global appeal of the World Cup played a huge part in the tournament’s popularity. But the big numbers were clearly being bolstered by growing interest in the United States, one of the few nations where soccer isn’t, hands-down, the most popular sport.
During Sunday’s final, 10.5 million of the people engaged on Facebook were from the United States. Compare that to the 7 million people in Argentina and 5 million in Germany, the match’s actual participants, and you can see that U.S. interest in the tourney didn’t disappear when the American side bowed out.
In the 28 days before the U.S. team lost to Belgium in the knockout round, 36.7 million U.S. fans engaged with the World Cup’s online properties, a spokesman for the organization said. That’s 11.2% of the country’s population and accounted for 23% of the total activity during that time.
In all, 42 million U.S. fans visited FIFA Web and mobile tools during the entire tournament.
As the U.S. men’s team played its way out of a tough opening-round group that included Germany, Portugal and Ghana, U.S. Web users spent a total of 847 years and 143 days engaged with FIFA content. That’s more than soccer-crazy rivals Brazil, Germany, England and France combined.
“The popularity of the World Cup in the USA shows what a nation of sports lovers and enthusiasts they are,” Blatter said.
“The carnival atmosphere experienced at the World Cup viewing parties, where fans filled whole city blocks across the U.S., shows the passion that Jürgen Klinsmann’s side has instilled in U.S. sports fans.”