World Cup Content: Who Won The Content Game?

As the teams and players battled it out on the field for the World Cup, a similar battle was being waged online. Instead of a game of physical agility and prowess, this was a game of content.

Who was the most read during the World Cup event? Who took home the Online Content Cup?

The Winners

Outbrain took an in-depth look at the most written about players and teams during the World Cup. They tallied and compared all of the pages viewed and articles written across their global network of 100 thousand plus sites during the three-month Cup run. Who came out on top? Let’s breakdown Outbrain’s infographic:

The question is who won at winning content? According to Outbrain’s research, Spanish players were the most read about around the world. French players won people’s interest the globe over, but the Spanish took the prize by showing more interest in the cup games than any other nation. Here are some interesting facts about the most viewed online content during the World Cup:

  1. Lionel Messi, Diego Costa, and Cristiano Ronaldo were the media favorites. Each managed to generate more than 700 thousand headlines.
  2. Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, and Andres Inesta were the “people’s choice.” Iniesta generated more than 5,000 page views per story, and Ramos and Alonso peaked more than 6,500 each.
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Junior, and Wayne Rooney were the social media stars. Rooney produced 8.8 million followers, Junior had over 10.7m, and Ronaldo generated an astounding 26.5m followers on Twitter!

Overall Outbrain identified a total of 11,260 pieces of World Cup content published to their network based on title. Based on their findings, Spain’s 0.73 percent of total page views handed them the winning spot for the country most interested in World Cup content. Meanwhile, France took first place for the team generating the most global interest with an impressive 3,522 average page views per story—1,846 more page views than the second runner up, England.

The Not So Gracious Losers

Unfortunately, not everyone proudly took a spot on the winning side of the Online Content Cup. Some were rather awkward losers.

There’s no denying that the World Cup generated one of the largest online content and social media buzzes ever to hit the Internet. As is the case with anything great, there are always pirates looking to steel content and boost website rankings in bad form. The World Cup was no exception. In the wake of the titan-sized event, 472 ‘pirate’ sites were blocked for unauthorized content.

The list of these ‘pirate’ sites was compiled when legal action was taken by Multi Screen Media PVT, Ltd, a Sony Entertain Television subsidiary located in India. The company obtained a FIFA license earlier in 2014 to broadcast the Cup. Their content now is being aired elsewhere minus proper permission, which led the company to action. Interestingly, the list of ‘infringing’ sites contains some very legitimate sites:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Video
  • Google URL shortener
  • Kim Dotcom’s

An update to the news story claims that the list of ‘pirate’ sites has decreased from 472 to 219, and the Google websites have been removed from the list. The takeaway point is that a sizeable number of websites came in on the losing end of the Online Content Cup for unscrupulous and unauthorized repurposing and distribution of content. And if there’s one thing this report by Torrent Freak proves, it’s that unauthorized distribution and reproduction of content is taken seriously.

Where Did You Place?

In the great race for recognition during the Online Content Cup, where did you and your business place? Did you gain a little chatter by participating in the event discussion? Did you spin the event to your business, find some relevancy, and write a few compelling pieces that pulled in some new audience members?

The World Cup was an excellent example of just why quality copy matters. During the weeks of the tournament, thousands of engaging and exciting pieces of killer content hit the Internet. Social media went crazy and sharable content — the kind that people just have to pass on to everyone in their network — made one sizable impact.

The FIFA World Cup comes around once every two years. The huge impact it made across social media, news sites, and the Internet in general surpassed any event that has ever hit the super cyber highway. Now that we see the incredible buzz this event stirs, the question isn’t whether you’ll participate when the next tournament rolls around. No, the question is starting today what will you do to be World Cup ready? How will you prepare to gain the maximum amount of exposure off what will surely be the next largest event to hit the World Wide Web?

About the author


Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

1 Comment

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  • Hi Julia,

    A good and interesting article – although, unfortunately let down right at the end. In fact, it could be said that you let your guard down just before the final whistle was blown (perhaps, a tight deadline was the cause).

    As I’m sure you already know, the World Cup (as with the other 3 major world sporting events – the Olympic Games (Summer & Winter), and the Commonwealth Games) are all on a four year cycle. In 2016, it’ll be the Summer Olympic Games, then in 2018, the Winter Olympic Games, the next World Cup and finally the Commonwealth Games (not necessarily in that order though – I just don’t have the exact dates/locations to hand).