ABIDJANE - Nearly 2 billion people watched the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 over the past month, according to Patrick Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football, at a press conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Analysts say the AFCON’s global viewership, online engagement and commercial revenue are all expected to grow significantly compared to previous editions thanks to expanded broadcast rights and media coverage, an uptick in commercial partnerships, and the impact of social media. Matches were aired in around 180 countries spread over multiple deals with partner broadcasters including Sky, Canal+, beIN Sport, BBC and MultiChoice, as well as 45 Free To Air broadcasters.

London-based market research firm GlobalData estimates that CAF will earn around $75 million in sponsorship revenue from this year’s AFCON. This year’s AFCON had 17 commercial partners including title sponsor TotalEnergies, 1xBet, Orange and Unilever.

James Torvaney, managing director of Africa-focused sports media group Pulse Sports, told Semafor Africa that there were “far more deals and far more coverage (of AFCON) than there ever has been before.”

Social media, particularly TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, also helped drive visibility for teams, brands and federations alike, according to new data by sports market intelligence platform #AfricaScores.

UK-based sports data company Opta crowned it “the most exciting AFCON ever”, noting that the goals-per-game rate of 2.47 in the group stages was the highest in 15 years.

Hosts Côte d’Ivoire, who reportedly spent $1 billion to host the tournament, are the other big winners, regardless of how it goes for the Elephants in the final against Nigeria’s Super Eagles. The country’s ambitions to boost itself as a finance, tourism, and culture hub would benefit from a memorable AFCON.