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INTERVIEW: “Kooora has always been ahead of all its rivals in Arabic-language digital sports publishing,” says Founder and Chairman
DUBAI: Footballco, the world’s largest digital football content and media company, has announced the purchase of Kooora, the largest digital sports publisher in the Middle East, in a $25 million deal dollars in cash at the beginning of the month.
Kooora, the Dubai-based online sports publisher, has dominated online sports news in the Middle East since its launch in Bahrain in 2002 by founder Khalid Al-Doseri.
The acquisition will expand Footballco’s current footprint in the Middle East, which is served by seven local editions of Goal published in English and Arabic, and will more than double Footballco’s audience in the region and increase its monthly global reach. to 640 million fans, according to a company statement.
“Kooora is very excited to be part of Footballco, a fast-growing content and media company with local and international digital sports platforms,” Al-Doseri told Arab News.
He added, “This will allow Kooora to gain even more international access and benefit from large-scale business opportunities. We consider Footballco to speak the same language as we do and look forward to playing an active role in the synergies that such a large network offers.
Despite the acquisition, Kooora’s content strategy will remain the same. “We plan to continue with our editorial and content direction in our proven format, focusing on what Arabic-speaking sports fans want,” Al-Doseri said.
“We always keep the fan at the center of all our endeavors, and that will never change.”
However, the company is investigating potential operational changes to improve efficiency and performance, “and will make them as needed in a timely manner,” he said.
Footballco will also integrate the operations of Kooora and Goal in the region and move its regional headquarters to Saudi Arabia, to further expand its presence in the region.
The demand for sports content has grown rapidly in the Middle East. “The sheer volume of sports information being disseminated daily locally, regionally and globally on and off the pitch, both professionally and socially, and the need for fast, accurate and relevant sports information has enabled digital platforms to meet these needs,” Al-Doseri said.
Digital and social media channels have provided audiences and publishers with a new avenue to consume and deliver content.
Kooora has 9 million social media followers across various platforms with a “remarkably outstanding following from Saudi Arabia on our Twitter account”, Al-Doseri said, and averages 25 million unique users per month.
He added, “Internet usage in the MENA region continues to grow at a rapid pace, driven by mobile usage, and now eclipses traditional print media, further bolstering digital sports publishing.”
The free and democratic nature of the Internet makes competition inevitable, but Al-Doseri refuses to view other publishers as competitors. On the contrary, “they complement us to further develop the digital sports market, and we sincerely and wholeheartedly encourage all initiatives in this regard,” he said.
“The more players in the market, the larger the market size.”
Still, he said, “Kooora has always been ahead of all its rivals in Arabic-language digital sports publishing.” The reason for its success has been extensive coverage of sports news from all countries in the MENA region, as well as international news.
“Understanding how to respond to each nation locally while remaining pan-Arab is a skill we have mastered over the past few years,” he added.
Although Kooora covers over 42 different sports, 85% of its coverage is football related. The reason is simple, Al-Doseri said. “Football is the most popular sport in the world, even more so in the MENA region.”
The platform’s coverage is based on consumer behavior and user interest, and therefore its content is largely driven by its readers.
“We cover many sports that have low viewership in the MENA region and often highlight them to expose other sports to MENA audiences, but football remains the star attraction on our platform,” Al said. -Doseri.
Kooora will provide more in-depth coverage, analysis tools, different types of content and formats for its football fans, and will likely “periodically and gradually develop other sports according to their scale of popularity”, he said. added.
Although Al-Doseri declined to share details, he said Kooora intended to develop “in so many different ways”.
“With Footballco now on board, I am more confident to say that our chances of mobilizing and accelerating these plans have become more achievable than ever before. We are keen to maintain momentum at all times.