Russia's Qatar World Cup ban will have little impact on TV viewership figures, it has been suggested
The appetite of Russians to watch live football at this year's football World Cup in Qatar won't be significantly affected by the national team's absence from the tournament, according to the CEO of the Telesport channel.
Valeri Karpin's Russia team were effectively barred from attempting to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as part of the global sporting community's widespread sanctions because of the ongoing military action in Ukraine.
But despite being deprived of seeing the likes of Russian teenage prodigy Arsen Zakharyan competing on the sport's biggest stage, there is expected to be quite a healthy interest in watching the event throughout Russia.
"This is the largest audience. Cumulative viewing is usually at the level of 200 million people. If you count in terms of people, it is from 40 to 50 million," said Telesport CEO Petr Makarenko to TASS.
"If we take the figures from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, then the average audience of one match on Channel One and Rossiya-1 is 10-12 million people, and on Match TV it is 1.5 million," he added.
"That is why we have two channels - Channel One and Rossiya - they are socio-political, they provide information to the people. And Match TV gives purely sports, it turns out to be a very good combination," he added.
The viewership estimates will come as good news to those who feared that there may be a blackout imposed on Russian television throughout the World Cup, with Match TV deputy general producer Vasily Konov previously stating that the relevant contracts had been agreed and signed to broadcast the event.
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Russia was the successful host of the 2018 World Cup, after which FIFA confirmed that a global audience of some 3.57 billion people tuned in to watch the tournament played across 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities.
The final, which was played between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, was viewed by more than 1.1 billion people worldwide.
This year's World Cup will take place between November 20 and December 18 in Qatar.