Cape Town - The 2010 Soccer World Cup has come and gone, the dust has settled, and general consensus is that the tournament did a power of good in raising the profile of both the country and the national soccer squad. But to what extent can local interest in Bafana Bafana be sustained at the level seen during the World Cup, and will the team’s “new” supporters stay loyal in the absence of a major international tournament?The answer, according to media expert Brett Hobbs, Business Unit Head at leading SA media company Carat SA, is that it is unlikely that Bafana Bafana’s level of support will be maintained unless SAFA, the sport’s governing body in SA, does a lot more to promote the team than simply rely on Bafana Bafana to win their games.Carat SA is part of a global media group that counts among its clients three of the global FIFA World Cup sponsors - adidas, Sony and Hyundai. In the run up to, during and subsequent to the World Cup, the company conducted a keen analysis of TV audience data, which revealed several interesting facts concerning not only the total numbers of viewers of soccer matches featuring Bafana Bafana, but also the composition, and changes in the composition, of the viewership over time. “The simple conclusion is that major international tournaments - not only football, but all sporting events - always deliver significantly larger audiences relative to ‘normal’ periods. While that may be obvious, what is more interesting is how much more representative of the total population viewership numbers are compared to local tournaments and friendly matches”, says Hobbs. He notes that, regrettably, South Africans tend to revert back to their old habits once the tournaments are over, and in this regard the World Cup is likely to prove no exception.“In the run up to the World Cup, Bafana Bafana matches - excluding the Confederations Cup - generated an average of 13AR’s in terms of TV audience figures supplied by SAARF. During the Confederations Cup audience figures spiked, with South African games generating 19AR’s. And then we had the World Cup, and the figures jumped massively to an average of 26AR’s across all the SA games.“However, the two games subsequent to the World Cup, managed to deliver an average of 15 AR’s. What this suggests is that the World Cup has helped boost Bafana Bafana’s standing within the SA public, although not perhaps to the degree that might have been expected on the back of the world’s greatest sporting event,” he says.Of interest is the fact that audiences for all the Bafana Bafana games prior to the World Cup enjoyed a male skew (average of 54%) whereas during the World Cup there was a slight female skew (average of 52%). In the two Bafana Bafana games following the World Cup the male skew (average 52%) is once again apparent. In terms of age profile, the World Cup saw an increase in the 50+ age group audiences, but with a slight decrease in the 15-24 years age group. After the World Cup, there has been a slight decline within the middle age groups, 25-49, but a good jump in the youth sector, ages 4-14, moving from an average of 17% for all games including the World Cup to an average of 21% subsequently.The most interesting statistic, according to Hobbs, concerns the racial split in audiences. “Between the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, all Bafana Bafana games enjoyed a far greater Black majority, at an average of 92% of total viewers. The power of the World Cup is demonstrated by the fact that the proportion of Black viewers dropped to an average of 78% for Bafana Bafana games, while the white market tripled to approximately 9% of the total. “Sadly, it would seem that the racial split post the World Cup has reverted back to the profile of ‘normal’ games prior to the Cup, with Black viewers once again comprising some 91% (on average) of total viewers,” says Hobbs.He suggests that, despite the fact that the figures are based only on SABC1 viewerships and that Bafana Bafana have played in only two matches after the World Cup, these figures offer a useful insight into the bigger picture.“The 2010 World Cup most definitely brought the nation together – more so than anything previously – but, true to form, South Africans appear to have reverted to their old ways in the period following the tournament. There must surely be more that SAFA can do to ensure that the country supports the national football team consistently, and not only during the major tournaments,” he concludes.