x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Qatar World Cup boost for GCC media

The 2022 World Cup will increase sponsorship and adverting spending in the Gulf, but not to the levels possible in Europe, a sports marketing experts says.

Qatar's winning bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup will boost regional advertising and sponsorship deals, although not to the levels enjoyed by the lucrative FIFA tournaments held in Europe, says a sports marketing executive.

"We certainly believe that it will provide a substantial boost to the value of regional football sponsorship," said Seth Holmes, the director of consulting at the sports marketing agency IMG Middle East.

"The smart clubs and national federations will already be devising strategies for leveraging this."

Mr Holmes said sponsorship opportunities may not be as lucrative in Qatar compared with some other markets.

If any existing FIFA sponsors chose to not renew their contracts, Qatar's organising committee will be entitled to sell the sponsorships locally. But given the relatively small size of Qatar, there will be limited interest in this beyond the national industries of telecommunications, banking and airlines, says Mr Holmes.

"Mature markets within the European region … might be able to deliver more in terms of national sponsors," he said. "But I suspect Qatar will not require this level of support and their focus will be on creating infrastructure for tourism that leaves a permanent legacy."

Patrick Forbes, the chief executive of the public relations company Forbes Associates, based in Qatar, said the 2022 tournament could help international sponsors reach new markets. "It's an opportunity for sponsors to reach a huge audience that has been hitherto unaddressed."

In terms of TV advertising sales, Mr Holmes said Qatar would probably move the times of games to accommodate the European audience, which he said was "the most lucrative for the World Cup".

But this may not always be possible, given that the most lucrative advertising slots in the European market are for games that start at 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays - 9pm in Doha in the summer.

"That's the absolute number one time slot - and you probably wouldn't be able to play a football game in Qatar at that time, for practical reasons," he said.

FIFA's bid evaluation report for Qatar addressed several aspects of media and communications.

It found there was "unlikely to be a negative impact on TV ratings in Europe and the European media rights income".

It added that Qatar was "not considered to be an important market for most of FIFA's commercial affiliates". The report also highlighted Qatar's large domestic TV audience for football. "Football is the most watched programme on TV," it said.