By Sally Monem, Product Marketing Manager at Google across the Middle East & North Africa, and Sandy Maksoudian, YouTube Content Solutions LeadGoogle across Middle East and North Africa
The World Cup gets plenty of attention in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 — kicking off in November — will see the sporting spectacle taking place in the Middle East for the first time, with interest likely reaching fever pitch.
New Google and YouTube insights suggest regional football fans are already pumped, getting the ball rolling on 2022 World Cup-related searches since 2021:
Source: Google internal data, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, 2021.
Interest on YouTube around the FIFA World Cup continues to grow too, with search interest around this year’s event already surpassing 2018’s by 80%. And more searches mean more viewing. In fact, the 2022 event could see watch time soar by more than around 30%, reaching about 300 million people.
Here are three need-to-knows to help your brand kick-off for what is looking to be the most digital World Cup ever:
1. The World Cup is played offline but experienced online
After years of not being able to watch sports in person, people are itching to get back to live matches. While this may also be true for World Cup Qatar 2022, historical data suggests a growing rise in online versus offline interest.
The online offering of the 2018 FIFA World Cup far surpassed its offline one, for example. While the event welcomed three million in-person match attendees, it saw three billion Google searches3, and five billion World Cup-related views on YouTube.
Source: FIFA World Cup Russia report, and Google and YouTube internal data, Global, 2018.
Marketing tip: Connect with fans while they’re searching
2. World Cup fans want an all-access pass beyond the 90-minute game
This year’s event will likely stockpile a massive amount of digital content if previous World Cups are anything to go by. The month-long 2018 World Cup, for example, showcased 64 live matches, generating around 110 hours of match content, equal to about five days of watch time. That match content, however, generated 230 million hours of YouTube watch time, equal to 26,000 years worth.
People in the Middle East and North Africa contributed to 7% of that watch time, particularly those in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In fact, those two countries ranked among the top ten globally when it comes to football viewership, boasting the highest watch time between 2018 and 2022.
And data from the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup — which was watched online 29 million times — reveals that while a match lasts offline for an hour and a half, it lives on YouTube for more than 15 hours that day. That’s because supporters are watching and rewatching matches, as well as before and after moments.
Marketing tip: Know where your fans are and connect early
3. World Cup fans want content variety
Seventy-eight percent of viewers in MENA say YouTube offers sports content that can’t be found anywhere else. This is particularly true for football, famous for its guarded official coverage. It’s no surprise then that Arabic football creators, like Saba7o Kora and Mohamed Adnan, boast some of the highest-viewed videos.
Standing out among catchy content means understanding what your audiences watch. But not all content is born the same. MENA fans get their football fix from:
Marketing tip: Be present across content formats
This article was originally published on the official blog of Think with Google.