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Sony to power sports biz with 11 channels, new branding and Sachin Tendulkar

MUMBAI: After completing the first phase of acquisition of Ten Sports Network from ZEEL in March, Sony Pictures Networks India ( SPNI) has re-branded the Ten Sports channels as Sony Ten to unify the sports network under the mother brand, and has dedicated a channel each for cricket, football, fight sports and best of international sports.

The broadcaster has also launched two new high-definition (HD) channels in addition to a Hindi sports channel. Sachin Tendulkar has been appointed as the brand ambassador for the sports network.

The Sony brand name has been integrated to the Ten Sports channels. Sony has rebranded Ten 1, Ten 2, Ten 3, Ten 1 HD and Ten Golf HD as Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 1 HD and Sony Ten Golf HD.

The new additions to the bouquet are Sony Ten 2 HD and Sony Ten 3 HD. The HD channels will be mirror of Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3, which has become a Hindi sports channel.

The logo Sony Six and Sony Six HD has also been changed to give it a similar look and feel to Sony Ten channels. The Sony ESPN logo remains unchanged.

As per the new content strategy, Sony Six and Sony Six HD will be the home of cricket.

Sony Ten 1 and Sony Ten 1 HD will be dedicated to wrestling and fight sports.

Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 2 HD will cater to football. Sony Ten 3 and Sony Ten 3 HD will offer best of sports events in Hindi.

Sony ESPN/Sony ESPN HD has become the home of best of international sports like the NBA. Sony Ten Golf HD’s proposition remains the same.

In case of overlap of sporting events, the broadcaster will air the most important matches on the primary destination channel while the other matches will be aired on some other channel. For example, if there are multiple cricket series, then Sony Six will air the most important series, while the other series will be broadcast on any of the other channels.

Sony has roped in cricketing legend Tendulkar as the brand ambassador for the sports network to popularise the new tagline of ‘Go Beyond’. The rebranding will be supported by an integrated campaign across both, ATL and digital platforms. The broadcaster has created a separate brand film for each channel to drive home the point.

Commenting on the rebranding, SPNI CEO NP Singh said, “Our corporate philosophy of “Go Beyond” encourages us to be brave, curious, insightful and visionary in everything we do. It takes leaders to go beyond at every step of the game because leaders just don’t prepare for the future; they create it. And, it is the leader mindset that has taken us from a single sports channel in 2012 to 11 dedicated sports channels in a span of five years. Currently, we are among the largest sports broadcasters in the Indian subcontinent.”

Sony’s sports cluster now boats 11 sports channels including five in SD and six in HD. The broadcaster has 11,000 hours of live content this year across cricket, football, tennis, fight sports and other sports.

“We have 990 live football games, 170 days of live cricket including 56 days of India cricket alone, 1,600 hours of live tennis content, 990 hours of fight sports, and 970 hours of CWG and Asian Games in the next one year,” said SPNI president distribution and sports Rajesh Kaul.

Kaul also shared that Sony’s sports cluster including Ten Sports had a 55% viewership share in first six months of the year compared to 24% in 2016. Star Sports had a share of 35% vis a vis 44% last year. Ten Sports share in 2016 was 20%.

Sony is also setting up a state-of-the-art studio in Mumbai to bolster its non-live programming. It has partnered IMG Reliance to set up the studio. The partnership also includes production.

Kaul said that creating a destination for each sport would make it easier for viewers to identify the channels. “We have close of 11,000 hours of live content and this gives us an opportunity to actually create a destination for each sport. This will remove confusion in the mind of consumers,” he stated.

He further stated that Sony Ten 3 is a Hindi channel, but only important events like India cricket, FIFA U-17 World Cup will be in Hindi to begin with.

“These will be the primary destinations for those specific sports. In case of overlap, the important events will be aired on the primary channel, while other events will be aired on other channels,” he noted.

While Sony Ten 3 will be in Hindi, the other language feeds for specific sporting events will be on their primary channels.

Singh also said that the network had not yet decided to pull out sports content from entertainment channels.

“We have a huge sports network today with 10 channels plus Golf. Those 10 channels give us the opportunity to showcase the content that we have. We have marquee entertainment channels which have been used for sporting events whether that will continue or not only time will tell,” the SPNI CEO said.

Queried about the revenue split for sports broadcaster, he said that the split between ad sales and distribution is 65:35.

Singh also said sports will be driven by subscription revenue. However, the true potential of that can only unlocked in a fully addressable environment.