Sports is a largely untapped market in Pakistan's digital realm and this long-held belief has just been lent further credence by Google's top trends in Pakistan for 2018.
The search engine, by singling out search terms that had a high spike in traffic in the outgoing year, has revealed that a staggering seven of its top 10 Pakistani trends were sports related.
With a dearth of specialised content on local portals, sports fans in Pakistan often find themselves furiously foraging search engines for content that could tickle their fancy.
It means that sports events such as the Asia Cup, the PSL and the FIFA World Cup had far more Google searches from Pakistan than political happenings — some of which were almost seismic in the local context (read: general elections) but did not trigger the same volume of searches.
Let's conduct a countdown of the said septet of trends that serve our purpose.
For a Pakistan-India cricket match to crack any Pakistan-related listicle is no surprise at all. In fact, what's surprising is that it's the lowest searched sports event in the top 10.
Perhaps, the audiences were so glued to their TV screens during their Asia Cup clash in September that they did not run as many Google queries as they could have.
The state sports channel retains exclusive rights for many sporting events which its (few) local competitors don't. That coupled with the broadcaster's lax policy against illegal streamers means that it gets searched a lot by Pakistani internet uses.
This is one of those searches that make little sense because if it's an Asia Cup query then why does it have Brisbane — an Australian city — in it? The 2015 edition of the AFC Asian Cup was jointly hosted by five Australian cities, one of which was Brisbane but it still does not make sense for Pakistanis to be this curious about a three-year-old continental football tournament.
Let's file this under mysteries that will probably never be solved.
The third edition of Pakistan's beloved T20 league features fourth on the list, which is weird considering that it took place in the first quarter of 2018 and has thus been a searchable event for a bigger chunk of time than its competition.
A shadow of their former self they may be, but Australia are still blockbuster on the basis of their legacy. It's no surprise then that the primary keyword for their tour of Pakistan was the third most searched term on Google in Pakistan.
The biggest sporting event of the year — and quite possibly ever — was the second most searched term by Pakistanis in 2018. Pakistan's sporting landscape is dominated by cricket. But the football world cup's entry at number two shows that the Gentleman's Game could soon face competition from the Beautiful Game — digitally speaking at least.
The top Pakistan trend on Google of 2018 could leave some scratching their heads but then there is a perfect reason why it is how it is. New Zealand and Pakistan do not have any storied rivalry nor can the former claim to be the best side in the world, which would then have justified Pakistani searches showing extraordinary interest in this match.
The reason why "Pakistan vs New Zealand" was the most Googled term in Pakistan this year is solely due to the volume of their clashes.
Pakistan kicked off their year with a tour of New Zealand — a favour the latter reciprocated recently. In all, the two sides faced each other an astonishing 17 times, which explains the number of queries it generated on Google.
The trio of non-sporting keywords on Google's Top 10 Pakistani trends for 2018 are: Samaa TV, Express Newspaper and 'XXXX Brewery Brisbane'.