Sports data drives decisions in the Middle East

With the growth of Saudi Arabia’s sports footprint, Nielsen Sports has found that Gulf brands and events are increasingly using sports data to refine their offerings.

The sports and entertainment landscape is changing dramatically in the Middle East. The emergence of commercial events and properties in Saudi Arabia means that established rights holders and brands in the UAE and the rest of the GCC need to review and refine their own offerings, as the mainstream entertainment environment becomes more and more competitive.

In Europe and North America, where strong industrial competition has developed over the decades, sports data has become invaluable and a central part of all business decision-making processes. Major rights holders and brands invest massively each year in data and expertise to acquire economic intelligence.


Nielsen Sports has worked with Formula 1 stakeholders around the world for three decades, and after being renamed by F1 owners Liberty Media as their preferred research provider, the partnership is focused on driving exposure to sponsors of F1 and the media rating program.

Matt Roberts, director of research and analytics at F1, believes the importance of sports data cannot be underestimated.

“We are delighted to be working with Nielsen Sports and over the past two seasons F1 has continued to innovate and push boundaries to help grow the sport,” said Roberts. “Nielsen’s data and insights have been fundamental in our quest to unlock business growth and reach new audiences.”

The partnership gives F1 access to global audience and media rating analysis through the use of Nielsen Sports’ unified measurement platform, Sports Connect, with F1 also receiving lap-by-lap analysis reports provided by Nielsen Sports in-house motorsport, digital and consulting. experts.

“Increased regional industry competition has led to an increased appetite for data and for more sophisticated measurement approaches. “

Rob Balsom, Director of Nielsen Sports MENAP, believes regional customers in the Middle East are now accelerating their data usage.

“Our experiences and expertise in more developed industrial regions really benefit our local customers in the Middle East,” Balsom said. Sports Industry Insider. “For 10 years, Nielsen Sports has been supporting sports and entertainment players in the Middle East with data and advice.”

However, Balsom notices a significant shift in the industry, adding, “Over the past few years, we have seen increased regional industry competition leading to an increased appetite for data and for more sophisticated measurement approaches. This is driven by rightsholders who want to make more sustainable and measurable business progress, and by brands who need a clearer view of the impact and return of their sponsorships.


An example of such a rights holder in the Middle East that has embraced the data is the United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF), which has been a Nielsen Sports customer for over 5 years. UAEJJF’s current research program focuses on social media performance, digital fan engagement, and media rating across 18 UAEJJF events on the annual UAEJJF calendar.

Mohamed Hussain Al Marzooqi, Director of Marketing and Communications at UAEJJF, notes: “Nielsen Sports is an invaluable trusted advisor, providing data and insights that have allowed us to better engage with jiu-jitsu fans through our digital channels. and through robust media measurement data. and expertise that has increased our partner’s return on investment, greatly supporting our business discussions.

“The data provided by Nielsen Sports is now integrated into our conversations with stakeholders. This allows us to objectively measure our performance and business impact, and to make intelligent and scalable decisions.

Balsom thinks UAEJJF exemplifies how adopting sports data can help an organization.

“Supporting the UAEJJF for so many years has really shown them how useful data can be,” says Balsom. reach their fan base.

As the industry in the Middle East continues to mature and innovate, and more difficult decisions must be made, Nielsen Sports predicts that the demand for data will increase further. Rightsholders and brands, as is the case in Europe and North America, will depend on independent data and advice to make more informed and intelligent decisions day-to-day.