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Last Updated : Aug 08, 2019 06:17 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Will football and leagues outside cricket help Sony's sports cluster race ahead in the game?

Sony will be telecasting WWE, UFC, NBA, Pro Volleyball League, and World Cup Kabaddi.

Maryam Farooqui @farooqui_maryam
Representative image
Representative image

If Star’s sports channels were in the limelight in the last few months, Sony is upping its game with content ranging from cricket to football to kabaddi.

According to N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research, Sony will gain traction especially with smaller leagues because they are not heavy to sponsor and they yield a lot of revenue.

Sony will be telecasting WWE, UFC, NBA, Pro Volleyball League, and World Cup Kabaddi.

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Sony’s sports channel cluster was unable to find a position amid top five channels as long as the Indian premier League (IPL) and the ICC World Cup were on air.

But after July 14, when the final match between England and New Zealand was played, Sony Ten 1 entered the list at rank five.

In July, Sony has been offering a lot of football content to its viewers ranging from UEFA Champions League to UEFA Europa League.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Rajesh Kaul, Chief Revenue Officer, Distribution and Head – Sports Business, Sony Pictures Networks India, said, “International football leagues have experienced tremendous growth. Serie A (a professional league competition for football clubs) continues to be the most sampled International Football league, with 38.3 million viewers sampling the 2018-19 season.”

Last year, the FIFA World Cup for which Sony Pictures Network (SPN) was the official broadcaster saw, as many as 177 million viewers across India tuning in to watch football, said Kaul.

“The final match of the FIFA World Cup was watched by 39 million viewers, which is the highest reach for any FIFA World cup match in Indian television history,” he added.

According to him, football experienced a considerable jump in popularity during 2018, with viewership share in the sports genre growing to 7 percent from 3 percent in 2017.

That is why SPN is taking the relationship forward and acquired FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019, the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup which was on air between June 7 and July 7 this year also received a positive response with 5.3 million viewers.

“While cricket continues to have the dominant pie, football has grown at an unprecedented rate. We have international brands that are beginning to associate with football in India along with domestic players coming on board. The FIFA World Cup commanded a huge premium and we are expecting a similar upside on the UEFA Champions League and UEFA EURO 2020,” he said.

As many as 40 advertisers had come on board on television for FIFA World Cup last year and reports suggest that the advertising revenue doubled from 2014 edition that fetched the network Rs 100 crore.

Kaul says football advertising rates are very close to Indian cricket advertising rates for marquee events like FIFA World Cup, yet there remains a significant difference.

While ad rates for FIFA were over Rs 6 lakh for a 10 second spot on television, ad rates for ICC World Cup matches excluding India were in the range of Rs 8-Rs 10 lakh. The number went as high as Rs 25- Rs 35 lakh for the India matches.

But Sony is not relying on football alone.

It will be offering cricket properties like India tour of West Indies which began on August 3, The Ashes and England tour of South Africa.

However, Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media thinks that there will lesser viewer interest for India tour of West Indies due to the match timings.

Hence, there will be lesser interest amid advertisers too for the property.

If not cricket what are sports fans watching?

Currently, it looks like Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is gaining more traction amid sports enthusiasts than cricket.

But this too could be an opportunity for Sony as it has exclusive rights to a lot of non-cricket sports especially at a time when leagues outside of cricket are gaining traction.

While Star's sports channels are ahead in the race Sony could catch up looking at its diversified sports content.

“Sony’s portfolio has been a legacy portfolio in sport. It always has been a starter in this particular area and Sony should shakeup the dust on its shoulder and fight this battle in a multi-pronged way,” Chandramouli added.

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First Published on Aug 8, 2019 06:17 pm
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