Roshn Saudi League leads global leagues in digital growth

The Roshn Saudi League registered a whopping 67 percent increase in its social media following over the course of the 2023-24 season, dwarfing growth figures from top leagues around the globe.

RSL channels jumped from 6.8 million followers at the start of the campaign to 11.5m by June 2024, driven by worldwide interest in the competition following the arrival over the past 18 months of several of the game’s superstars. Those include the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane.

The Saudi Pro League (SPL) expanded its presence into China, launching new channels on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyin, where it attracted more than 200,000 fans in the first six months.

Continuing its focus on international growth, SPL created an English-language Instagram account, which amassed 1.3m followers, and recently launched an English-language Facebook page that attracted 200,000 followers. The league’s account on X (previously Twitter) grew by 145% since the start of the season, overtaking Japan’s J League and South Korea’s K League to become the most-followed international account on the platform for any Asian league.

Closer to home, the SPL reached 1.4m fans across the Middle East and North Africa region through the launch of its Arabic language WhatsApp channel, delivering updates, news and entertaining content directly to the phones of its users across the Arabic-speaking world from Oman to Morocco.

Additionally, SPL launched a dedicated account on X for RSL Fantasy, with more than 30,000 followers engaging on social media with the interactive game. Already, it boasts more than 180,000 registered users from 51 countries.

RSL clubs performed exceptionally well in the same period, with two clubs, Al Hilal and Al Nassr, named by the CIES Football Observatory among the top 10 fastest-growing football clubs in the world during the past 12 months. Al Nassr placed fourth with 22 million new followers added, while Al Hilal came eighth with 13 million new followers.

Meanwhile, Al Ahli had the highest relative growth over the course of the season, growing their online fanbase by 76% to become the fourth RSL club to surpass the 10m followers mark - joining Al Nassr, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad in that elite group.

Leveraging the popularity of club captain Ronaldo in China, Al Nassr became the first RSL club to launch their dedicated channels in the country, with their Weibo account surpassing 135,000 followers within the first few months.

The unprecedented digital growth mirrors the development of the RSL in other areas, with international broadcast markets jumping by 30% to 160 countries, served by 38 global platforms. The league also increased the number of its sponsors by 267% from three to 11 in what Chief Executive Officer Omar Mugharbel described as a "game-changing season".

“The 2023-24 Roshn Saudi League season will be remembered as a milestone moment in the growth of elite football in Saudi Arabia," Mugharbel said. "It is impossible to overstate how much of a game-changing season 2023-24 has been.

“As we progress to full preparations for next season, there is no doubt that the league will continue to grow from strength to strength. What is crucial now is enhancing the offering for all stakeholders across the Roshn Saudi League to ensure that we deliver a product on and off the field that is truly and consistently world class across all metrics.

"These are hugely exciting times for football in Saudi Arabia and we look forward immensely to the Roshn Saudi League season 2024-25.”