First launched in 1996, the AFF Championship is a biennial competition contested by the men’s national ‘A’ teams from 11 Southeast Asian countries. In its 26-year history, Thailand has won the title a record seven times, followed by Singapore with four titles, Vietnam with two titles and Malaysia with one.
With a new title sponsor, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, coming on board for the tournament's 2022 edition, it was important to introduce the new event name and ensure it resonates with the passionate fans in positive ways. In addition, as the digital landscape for fan engagement evolves, the challenge for this prestigious tournament was to continue to innovate and grow its engagement numbers on all platforms and channels.
To ensure that the football fans around the region are introduced to the new event name “AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup” and continued to be engaged in various ways for the 2022 iteration, SPORTFIVE SEA together with the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) and title sponsor, Mitsubishi Electric, jointly undertook a multi-prong approach to build awareness and maximise engagement via both physical and digital channels.
Trophy Tour held in five Southeast Asian cities
As a physical engagement touchpoint, a Trophy Tour was planned and organised, with stops at five Southeast Asian cities, namely Bangkok, Singapore, Selangor, Jakarta, and Ho Chi Min City, in the months leading up to the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022, with the aim of connecting with the local communities and building excitement ahead of the tournament.
Featuring local football legends who participated in on-stage games and Q&A sessions with the fans, the Trophy Tour event proved to be a major contributor to the extensive PR and media coverage garnered by the 2022 tournament and its new title sponsor. In fact, the tournament received a remarkable 94,500 online news mentions, with a potential news reach of 339 billion, while Mitsubishi Electric as the tournament's title sponsor received more than twice the media coverage compared to the previous edition, highlighting the success in media coverage.
Digital and Social Media Content
The AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 saw great success by employing a strong digital content strategy alongside their official social media and digital platforms, which played a pivotal role in engaging with the digitally-savvy fans and expanding the event's reach. Building on the digital-first approach implemented for the 2020 edition, the digital offerings have been enhanced, while the event sponsors and partners also contributed innovative, branded digital content, resulting in a diverse content mix that effectively attracted and engaged the event's fanbase in an authentic manner.
ONSIDE Digital Collectibles
To further differentiate the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 from its competitors, and be innovative in the way the event interacts with fans, the official digital collection for the tournament, ONSIDE, was launched with the fan experience at heart, offering ASEAN football fans an opportunity to come together as one community in the NFT space, collect the tournament’s greatest moments, share their passion for football and support their teams in a new and creative way.
The platform featured two NFTs collection, with the first being the ‘Alpha Masks’, a unique visual representation of each participating team. A total of 270,000 masks were minted with over 220 variations made available. ‘In-Game Moments’ was the second set of NFTs, which featured iconic moments, such as goals, saves and key highlights, from the tournament.
The purchase of the ONSIDE Alpha Masks and In-Game Moments also provided online-to-offline Utilities, which gave fans the chance to gain unique in-person experiences around the tournament (such as half-time pitch access, and pre-match training attendance), that brought them closer to the game itself.
The AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup continues to be the flagship tournament of the ASEAN Football Federation, with attendance figures, broadcast values and social media engagement values growing strongly year on year. With innovation and the fan experience at the heart of the tournament’s DNA, the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup is expected to continue with their growth trajectory and cement itself as one of the most prestigious football competition in the ASEAN region.
Attendance and Broadcast
Total attendance across 26 matches and 10 venues
Hours of TV coverage by 15 broadcasters
TV broadcast cumulative reach
The AFF Championship has once again broken its own record for TV viewership, with the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 drawing a staggering audience of 305 million viewers (Linear TV and OTT). This marks a 15% increase from the previous edition’s viewership figures, underscoring the tournament's ever-growing popularity among audiences, and even showing that it is one of the most followed football tournament in five major Southeast Asian markets.
The Vietnamese team's journey to the Finals was watched by a massive TV audience of 75 million viewers (Linear TV and OTT) in Vietnam, which is the country with the highest TV viewership of the 2022 tournament. The Vietnamese audience alone constituted almost a quarter of the overall 305 million global TV audience.
The 2022 tournament broke TV rating records in Thailand, with over 69.5 million viewers tuning in, representing a 37% increase from the 2020 edition.
Moreover, despite having fewer linear TV broadcast hours (22.4 hours), the cumulative linear TV audience for the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 (15.9 million viewers) was higher than that of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which had 38.7 broadcast hours and 10 million viewers in Thailand.
Making it to the knockout rounds for two consecutive editions, the youthful Indonesian side’s performance in recent years hasn’t gone unnoticed. Backed by an incredibly passionate fan base, the team captivated the attention of over 45 million TV viewers in Indonesia during the 2022 edition.
Furthermore, Indonesian fans also show greater interest in local football than international tournaments. On Linear TV, the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 attracted more than four times the viewership of the FIFA World Cup 2022 (24.1 million viewers compared to 5.9 million).
Malaysia recorded a 114% spike in TV audience, with over 41.8 million viewers tuning in.
Of note, the semi-final clash between Malaysia and Thailand attracted 2.9 million Malaysian viewers – this figure surpasses the viewership for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final and the highest-rated English Premier League 22/23 season match (Manchester United vs Newcastle United) by 38%, testament of the strong interest and passion in local football by Malaysian fans.
Making up the last market in the top five is the Philippines, which recorded a huge seven-fold increase in TV viewership compared to the 2020 edition. With close to 39 million viewers tuning in, the country’s audience demonstrated a strong growing interest in the tournament, affirming its appeal among football fans in the Philippines.
Building on the successful partnership with TikTok for the 2020 edition, the short-form mobile video app came on board as an Official Supporter for the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 and launched an integrated campaign to promote the tournament across six key Southeast Asian markets, namely Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.
Featuring a variety of curated content and deeper collaboration with TikTok’s creator community, the platform has established itself as the go-to place for the passionate, digitally-savvy fans, as demonstrated by the remarkable engagement metrics generated by the campaign.
The campaign delivered in excess of 3.9 billion video views and 222 million engagements during the tournament period
Videos under the #AFFMitsubishiElectricCup hashtag were viewed over 3.7 billion times
Followers of the official TikTok accounts grew by 63% to 851K
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who was among the capacity crowd at the second leg of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 final between Thailand and Vietnam and also presented the medals during the awards ceremony after the match said, “As I saw tonight, this region has such a fanatical interest in following football, and we want to transfer this passion into positive results on the field. This is why FIFA supports talent development across the world, to support the next generation of players, girls and boys, and to create the platform for them to compete on the global stage.”
Next up, the AFF U23 Championship
While the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup is set to reconvene only in 2024, get ready for more ASEAN football action with the AFF U23 Championship, which sees the best under-23 teams competing for glory.
The previous edition in 2022 had an impressive 575 hours of TV broadcast coverage. With a media partnership with Goal.com, the tournament also achieved remarkable engagement numbers online, with the dedicated landing page attracting 675K unique users who viewed various content related to the tournament. Goal.com's social media channels also recorded 4.6 million impressions and 1.1 million engagements, highlighting the tournament's ability to connect with football fans across different digital channels. Overall, the success of the 2022 edition of the AFF U23 Championship promises yet another exciting edition of the tournament in 2023.
As I saw tonight, this region has such a fanatical interest in following football, and we want to transfer this passion into positive results on the field.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino