The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) recently suggested that its digital platforms brought in record engagement during the Asian Cup. The AFC suggests that an all-time high of 836.6 million fans were engaged on social platforms during the tournament. The number is almost double of the 434 million viewers who were engaged on TV during the 2015 edition which was held in Australia.
The growth was experienced during this year’s Asian Cup held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) between January 5 and February 1 this year. Facebook brought the most engagement for the tournament. Four years ago, the platform engaged 11 million fans, but this time, it engaged 169.4 million, marketing a 15x increase.
However, the biggest growth was witnessed on Instagram. Four years ago, it engaged one million fans, but this time, the engagement increased to 132.4 million. Growth was also experienced on Twitter where 106.5 million impressions were recorded during the period as against three million four years ago. Interestingly, the Chinese social platform Weibo also added 50 million impressions for the tournament.
AFC revamped its websites just one-month before the tournament began which helped it get 30.9 million page views. Its YouTube channel also received over 700,000 hours of viewership. AFC general secretary Dato’ Windsor John said that the consumer patterns show that football fans are shifting rapidly to their digital offerings. The AFC has working to enhance the digital experience to reach their fans better.
John noted that the AFC is looking to improve on the legacy of the last edition and engage hundreds of millions of fans in showcasing the rise and progress of football in Asia. The tournament figures were announced after an Associated Press (AP) report over the weekend, suggesting that UK based Qatari viewers had to subscribe to betting sites on getting access to the tournament. Note that gambling is prohibited in Islam.
The AFC was caught in a whirlpool as it had sold its broadcast rights to betting companies offering digital streams of matches, according to the report. Qatar, a Muslim nation, defeated Japan 3-1 to win the Asia Cup title for the first time.
Executive VP of media for Lagardere Sports, Nikolaus von Doetinchem noted that they had negotiated multiple deals with broadcasters around the globe to stream the Asia Cup, but in the UK, they could not strike a deal with commercial or free-to-air broadcasters. He noted that Bet365 streams the matches for betting purposes, but they are not broadcast quality.