The AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Final Round was the most engaging in history, surpassing all previous editions of Asia’s FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments with more than 788 million impressions observed on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s digital channels.
Held across 10 Match Days from September 2, 2021, to March 29, 2022, as well as last week’s AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Playoff between eventual winners Australia and the United Arab Emirates, Asia’s top 12 sides battled across 61 matches with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia eventually clinching the Continent’s four automatic places, before the Socceroos claimed a record sixth AFC spot to join hosts Qatar.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the lead up to the qualifiers to be postponed on several occasions, but the necessary interruptions did little to dampen the appetite for and consumption of Asian football as passionate fans from across the globe continued to engage in record numbers.
Further underlining the fervour for the Asian game, the 788 million impressions was an astonishing 2,108% increase from the 2016-2017 campaign. At the same time, engagements on the AFC’s social media channels rose immensely across the two editions surging by 2,350% from 2.8 million to 70 million.
The AFC’s YouTube and Instagram platforms led the way in galvanising football fans from all corners of the globe, with 290.9 million and 212.3 million impressions, while Twitter received impressions of 46.3 million and Facebook gathered 142 million.
There was also a stunning 12,530% increase in video views on YouTube, as viewership rose from 1 million in 2016-2017 to 134.6 million in the recently concluded campaign, where nearly 2 million hours of watch time was recorded.
The introduction of several language platforms also contributed to the staggering increase with the newly introduced Mandarin-based channels attaining close to 100 million impressions as the AFC’s Weibo, Toutiao, and Douyin channels garnered 42.6 million, 18.2 million and 35.4 million impressions respectively.
Meanwhile, the world’s most reliable information and coverage hub of Asian football – the-AFC.com – witnessed a notable 155% increase in page views and a 136% increase in users.