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Soccer fan or not, you have to respect the digital power of the FIFA World Cup. The world’s largest sporting event doesn’t just capture the globe’s attention every four years—it takes it prisoner.

The World Cup on Google and YouTube

According to Google, more soccer-related searches are made during the World Cup than the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and the Tour de France combined. ESPN reported more than 30 million hours of streamed content through its Watch ESPN app, making the World Cup the most streamed sporting event in US history.

And it’s not just fans that are taking notice: America’s biggest brands are capitalizing on this fervor with YouTube, the world’s largest video platform. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, YouTube has seen more than 900 times the views of soccer-related content compared to the last World Cup in 2010—more than 1.6 billion views in just a 30-day period. (For those keeping score, that’s nine times faster than “Gangnam Style.”)

Branded content and the World Cup

What’s most surprising is that American fans are consuming branded content almost as much as game highlights. In fact, the top five recent soccer-related videos in the US have all been released by brands, with Nike’s “Winner Stays” campaign gobbling up more than 100 million views in less than a month. For many brands, this American soccer bandwagon looks more like a gravy train.

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup now in the semifinals—sadly without America’s Cinderella team—the digital behemoth that is the World Cup forges ahead on YouTube. If 2014 is any indication of the brand exposure the World Cup can bring you, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia could score more for your brand on YouTube than Lionel Messi.

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