15 Dec 2017
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Sony looking at TV telecast opportunities for local events in soccer

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) is looking at telecast opportunities for local events in soccer, chief executive officer NP Singh said.

SPNI is examining local events that take place in places like Kerala. There are also school- and college-level events. The broadcaster is looking at what is worth broadcasting.

Sony already airs some local leagues, including the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) in cricket, Pro Wrestling League (PWL) in wrestling and Champions Tennis League (CTL) in tennis.

SPNI’s initiatives will in part revolve around the Under 17 Fifa World Cup, which takes place in India next year. The AIFF’s ‘Mission 11 Million’ initiative will have grassroots programmes in the country. The campaign intends to engage at least 11 million youth around the game in the country.

Prasana Krishnan SixSPNI is seeing the ways in which it can take part. This could be in the form of player profiles. “The AIFF has planned an intense calendar, and we are seeing how we can be a part of it. We also used the IPL as a platform to create awareness about the Under 17 World Cup. We are aiming to build up the Under 17 world Cup,” said SPNI executive VP, business head sports cluster Prasana Krishnan.

Krishnan noted that it was fortunate for Sony that both Euro and Copa America are happening at the same time. This way Sony can engage viewers from 6:30 pm to the next day’s breakfast with live soccer. However, the two properties from an advertisers perspective are sold separately. Euro, undoubtedly, is the marquee event.

He also said that Sony’s aim with its soccer properties is to have them appeal to a mass audience and go beyond soccer loyalists. That is why the ‘Time to Switch’ campaign was run. It used the IPL as a platform, and the point made was that for the next three months there is no Indian cricket. Therefore, one should watch something else and Euro should be the tournament of choice. The broadcaster saw that after the IPL there was a dip in cricket activity. Hence, the message of the campaign was to ask people to join for premium international soccer.

He added that Sony’s aim when it started its football journey was to go after marquee events that get attention. “Euro is the second-biggest event after the World Cup. It attracts non-league viewers due to brandness. Teams like England, Germany, Argentina and Brazil have a strong fan following.”

About Premier Futsal, which SPNI will also air, Singh said that the league owners have dealt with the issue with the AIFF. There is demand from parties that want to be franchise owners and things are moving in the right direction. “Concerns have been raised, but these have been responded to by the league owners. Franchises are comforted that Sony is airing it.”

Krishnan said that the broadcaster would see the results of having six language feeds for Euro 2016. Based on that, it would take a call on whether or not to have multiple feeds for other soccer properties.