Over the past few decades, the sports industry in the MENA region has been rapidly growing. A report published by PwC stated that the Middle East’s sports market is expected to grow by 8.7% from the period of 2021-2026. Strong government backing and increasing commercial maturity have surely helped raise the Middle East’s prominence in sports, but the recent development of innovative technologies has also played a significant role in the acceleration of the sector.
The rise of digital technology has drastically changed the way sports fans consume and interact with their favourite teams. Nowadays, fans have the flexibility to access live events and games through various devices such as smartphones, laptops, and televisions, via their preferred platforms. This has been made possible due to advancements such as livestreaming, which has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for sports organizations and teams to reach a global audience and expand their fan base.
Livestreaming has had a noteworthy impact on sports, from expanding revenue opportunities for organizations through sales, advertising and sponsorships; to helping leagues grow the popularity of their teams and offers the potential to attract new fans to the squads and sport via the real-time communication with their fans. The enhanced level of engagement and fan participation during livestreams is possibly the biggest advantage of sports livestreaming over other media. With innovative features such as ‘multi-guest rooms’, modern livestreaming platforms enable up to 500 users to come together within the same virtual room and share their enthusiasm for sports.
Sports fans get access to live information such as team lineups, team statistics, player statistics, and live commentary for an immersive and unforgettable experience during specific sporting events using livestreaming platforms’ integrated technologies. In recent times, during the Football World Cup, livestreaming platforms provided an ideal platform for supporters to showcase their skills and share their enthusiasms for football. Applications were noted introducing a variety of unique activities aimed at attracting football supporters and motivating them to create original content with others who have similar interests. As a result, fan communities were able to come together to exchange stories and show support for their preferred players or clubs. For example, over 200,000 users on global streaming platform, Bigo Live, joined Communities to share the spirit of football and celebrate the achievements of teams across MENA during the World Cup.
Livestreaming platforms’ thriving communities make them a great place to find sports news and provide fans a chance to communicate with one another, voice their thoughts about their teams, and share some of their favourite moments from each game. This further inspires content providers to make their videos to showcase their talents, share their enthusiasms and inspire each other through real-time interactions while streaming. Mohammed Awaad, who has amassed a significant following of over 5 million fans across his channels, shares the latest news around the world of football while also analyses strategies and identifies human-interest stories produced by football on different social media platforms for more than 8 years.
Bigo Live recently collaborated with Mohammed Awaad to go live on their channels and commentate on matches during the World Cup. “As it relieved some of the pressure I was under during the World Cup, livestreaming on Bigo Live was quite a great experience,” said Mohammed. He was taken aback by the numerous responses and great level of spectator engagement. He especially valued the real-time interactions he had with his viewers, who kept in touch with him throughout his livestreams.
Speaking on his experiences on Bigo live, Mohammed highlighted that he had been able to impart knowledge successfully and that he believed that such platforms allowed users to build meaningful connections with others. He was impressed by the platform’s welcoming atmosphere which encourages purposeful interactions between users. Mohammed was also able to find other sports commentary channels on Bigo Live, where he discovered many interesting and talented broadcasters from all around the world.
Fans from around the world have recently shown a greater level of interest in regional sports teams and ongoing athletic events. Most notably, the news of Cristiano Ronaldo joining the Saudi Arabian football team, Al Nassr has significantly sparked interest in the Saudi League. As the region continues to host major global sporting events, livestreaming offers viewers an exciting and immersive experience that enables them to watch, comment, and interact in real-time during games. With the continuous advancement of technology, coupled by the growing widespread public support for sports, the impact of livestreaming on the sports industry will only continue to grow in the future.