This figure amounts to a 113% increase over the same 16-match period when compared to the Qatar-based network’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™. As the exclusive broadcast rights holder of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ across 24 countries in MENA, beIN SPORTS is playing a central role in showcasing the historic tournament across the region. Offering audiences premium broadcast, analysis, and commentary of each game across seven channels, beIN SPORTS’ first set of viewing figures for the month-long tournament underlines the unprecedented appetite of football fans in the region for this historic first staging in the Arab World. Mohammad Al-Subaie, CEO of beIN – MENA, said: “We are not surprised that the first World Cup in the Middle East is shattering regional viewership records with more than one billion cumulative views of the opening ceremony and first 16 matches. Football fans across the Arab World are some of the most passionate in the world, and we are delighted to be screening the tournament across the region as we continue to inspire, educate, and entertain as the tournament’s Official Broadcaster in MENA.”According to IPSOS data, the official Opening Ceremony of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ was watched by 111.7 million adults across MENA. Equating to 31 per cent of the total adult population across the 24-country coverage area, the numbers represent a near six-fold increase from the 2018 tournament in Russia. Eight Groups, 16 Games, 900+ million viewers The cumulative total of viewers that tuned in to watch the first 16 group stage matches exceeded 900 million, with 99.2 million viewers watching the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador – an increase of 86 per cent compared to the opening match in Russia, and only marginally lower than the 2018 tournament’s semi-final between England and Croatia, which recorded 99.4 million viewers. In the other match in Group A, 44.6 million watched the Netherlands beat Senegal. In Group B, Iran – another MENA representative and one of five competing in Qatar this month – started their campaign with an opening defeat to England that was watched by more than 80.7 million viewers, including 60 per cent of Iran’s adult population. Meanwhile, in the other match, Wales’s return to the World Cup limelight for the first time since 1966 was watched by 26.5 million on beIN SPORTS as they played out a 1-1 draw with the United States. Saudi Arabia featured in the second most-watched game of the tournament so far, with a total of 99.3 million viewers tuning in for their incredible 2-1 comeback win against Argentina. Almost 18 million adults in the Kingdom – equating to 71 per cent of the country’s total adult population – watched The Green Falcons’ most famous World Cup win to date. Meanwhile, 30.7 million people watched Group C rivals Poland and Mexico tie 0-0. In Group D, Tunisia attracted a regional audience of 63.4 million – including 75 per cent of Tunisia’s adult population – to watch their stalemate with Denmark, before 71.9 million tuned in to see reigning world champions France start their title defence with a 4-1 win over Australia. In Group E, Japan’s shock 2-1 victory over four-time World Cup winners Germany was watched by more than 82.2 million people across the MENA region, before 52.4 million continued to watch Spain’s 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica. In Group F, some 57.2 million fans watched Morocco open their campaign with a stalemate against 2018 finalists Croatia, while 26.7 million watched Canada’s long-awaited return to world football’s grandest arena end in a 1-0 defeat to Belgium. The third most-watched game came in Group G, as five-time World Cup champions Brazil successfully got their campaign underway with a 2-0 win over Serbia with 95.6 million viewers watching. Some 11.1 million had earlier seen the group’s other match, a narrow 1-0 win for Switzerland over Cameroon. And, lastly, in Group H, a total of 64.9 million watched Cristiano Ronaldo make history by becoming the first player to score at five FIFA World Cups as Portugal beat Ghana 3-2, while 8.1 million had tuned in earlier in the day to watch Uruguay play out a 0-0 draw with South Korea. Surging Social Media While fans in the MENA region tuned into live broadcasts on beIN SPORTS more than a billion times, the data related to the company’s social channels during the first eight days is even more impressive. Between November 20 and 27, the published content across the eight days generated an enormous 1.7 billion impressions – more than seven times the 235 million generated across the entire FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. The broadcaster’s video posts in particular were viewed more than 330 million times, almost triple the number of views generated across the whole month of the 2018 tournament (121m).