The number of digital interactions during the 2019 edition of the tournament have been almost double than the 434 million TV viewers recorded during the 2015 edition in Australia.
The AFC Cup Facebook page has recorded a phenomenal 169.4 million engagements – a 15-time surge over the 11 million interactions four years ago. Instagram demonstrated the greatest leap with 132.4 million fans engaging with the tournament via the platform compared to one million during the previous instalment.
Asian Football Confederation’s official website AFC.com, which was remodelled a month before the tournament began, drew more than 30.9 million page views, while the AFC YouTube channel also attracted more than 700,000 hours of viewership.
On Twitter, 106.5 million impressions were recorded compared to three million four years ago while Weibo, the Chinese social media platform, achieved more than 50 million impressions.
“The consumer patterns of today’s football fans continue to shift rapidly, and the AFC’s digital offerings have been significantly enhanced to meet the demands of our passionate fans,” said Dato’ Windsor John, AFC general secretary.
“Our ambition with every competition is to improve on the legacy from the last edition and the hundreds of millions engaged by the world-class football on display exemplifies the undeniable rise and progress of Asian football.”
The AFC’s tournament figures were announced followed a report by the Associated Press (AP) at the weekend, which claims that Qatari viewers based in the UK had to subscribe to betting sites to view the tournament – despite Islamic faith prohibiting gambling.
The AFC had reportedly sold its broadcast rights to betting companies which offered digital streams for the tournament.
Qatar beat Japan 3-1 to win their maiden Asian Cup title.
Nikolaus von Doetinchem, executive vice president of media for Lagardere Sports, media rights agency for the Asia Cup, said: “For the 2019 Asian Cup, we have negotiated deals with multiple television broadcasters across the globe. In the UK, an agreement between the AFC and commercial or free-to-air broadcasters could not be reached.
“The relationship with Bet 365 allows registered users with an active account to stream the match for live betting purposes. The content made available via this platform is not broadcast quality. It is standard industry practice for most major rights holders to distribute content on similar platforms.”