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MSM’s soccer play to grow sports portfolio
MUMBAI: With soccer growing in visibility in the country over the past few years, Multi Screen Media (MSM) is using the opportunity to carve a niche for itself. It launched a second sports channel Kix more than four months back. Subsequently, it beefed up content by scoring a hat-trick of rights with Serie A, FA and La Liga.
“Over the past couple of years, we had positioned ourselves as the home of international football. Pretty much every tournament that mattered and the qualifiers were aired by us. While it worked quite well with tournaments like the Fifa World Cup, the constraint that we had was that it did not give us volume content,” Sony Six and Sony Kix business head Prasana Krishnan told TelevisionPost.com.
The plan was to have a consistent offering and transition from being the home of international football to being the home of football. “This is what our recent spate of football acquisitions has helped us to do. A combination of the FA Cup, La Liga and Serie A will give us significant content,” Krishnan said.
According to Krishnan, Kix is the only channel that has live soccer every weekend. “We have more and better quality football content compared to competition,” he said. “Now no serious fan of soccer can afford to ignore us. For fans of Italian and Spanish clubs, we are a must have. Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the biggest clubs on earth.”
Krishnan believes that MSM’s soccer portfolio is well-rounded with a combination of properties like Fifa, Uefa, Copa America, Africa Cup of Nations, European Qualifiers, South American Qualifiers and some South American football.
What about the timings of these matches? Krishnan said that La Liga matches are played at better timings. “Timings were an issue a few years ago. It used to be a problem with Spain. Today, a lot of games are played on primetime. We are now the home of Messi and Ronaldo. They are either playing for their leagues or for their countries.”
Soccer is the number two sport in India. “After cricket, soccer is the sport that resonates among youngsters. Football was always in our priority list, which is why we acquired Fifa and Uefa. Finally, the club football opportunity happened and this is what we have picked up.”
The priority for Kix is to have a distinct positioning. “That is why matches will be shown on Kix. Some matches, though, will air on Six if there is an overlap. We are clear that Six is where we will show IPL (Indian Premier League), TNA and the NBA. From a soccer fan’s perspective, it is important to give them a primary destination,” said Krishnan.
In terms of distribution, Krishnan said that the language feeds of the IPL on Kix ensured that the channel got off to a good start. “We followed that up with Copa America, which meant that we also got the football market. The India versus Sri Lanka cricket series’ Hindi feed is on Kix. It is further driving penetration,” he said.
Is MSM considering language feeds for soccer? “It is too early to consider that at this stage. We have to stabilise and grow the base markets before carrying forward on innovations. The language feed for the soccer World Cup in Bengali, however, got good traction,” Krishnan summed up.