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Soccer’s role in Ten Sports’ strategy

MUMBAI: Apart from WWE and the five board rights for cricket, ZEEL-owned Ten Sports relies heavily on soccer. It owns several rights, the most important of these being the UEFA Champions League.

According to Ten Sports CEO Rajesh Sethi, soccer plays a pivotal role in the broadcaster’s content strategy.

Mr. Rajesh Sethi“Our soccer content strategy revolves around having an anchor property and providing viewers with a mix of high-quality soccer from around the globe. Both distribution and ad revenue share have shown substantial upward movement over the years and have a long way to go,” he says.

Ten Sports’ portfolio includes UEFA champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA U-19, French League, Skybet Championship, Capital One, DFB Pokal and Club TV programming like Barca TV, Chelsea TV, Arsenal TV, FCB TV, among European football. It also has A-League. The domestic tournament comprises I-league and FFA Cup.

“We have more than 900+ matches spread around the year,” Sethi avers.

Name change to showcase more matches

For several years, Ten has had a soccer-focused channel but did away with that after going for the numerical naming system.

A major reason for the channels changing their names was the need to accommodate matches being played simultaneously.

“We were unable to show matches going at the same time due to channel name restriction as Ten Cricket, Ten Action, Ten Golf, etc. Rebranding the channels allowed us to simulcast matches at the same time. Currently, we are able to show four different matches on TV. We also stream two matches [other than those that are not telecast live on TV] on our website,” Sethi explains.

Offering experiential football

Shedding light on how the broadcaster has grown soccer content since he took charge of Zee’s sports business, Sethi notes that the aim of the properties is to reinstate the faith in football.

In order to propagate the sport of football, the network offers experiential football via ‘Flying Football Club’ and ‘Couch Football’, which encourage fans to stay engaged on Twitter during late-night matches, as well as grassroots football that encourages the Indian youth to learn football at the Paris Saint Germain academy in India via ‘Kick Start’.

Ten Sports has got UEFA Champions Trophy twice and created a new studio in its office. It has revamped the C2K show completely, which focuses now more on serious football.

“We want to align ourselves with the fans’ demand. We also simulcast 4–5 matches on our website to capture the young audience who are available on digital/internet,” Sethi says.

Ten Sports has launched two new in-house shows—’Sports Week’ and ‘Mind Games’. The first one is more generic in nature, while the other focuses more on technicality like tactics used in the game. “There are multiple wraparound shows in the form of club TV programming, highlights and in-house programming shows,” Sethi explains.

The rights situation

In terms of the soccer rights situation, Sethi noted that the company has a long-term partnership with its key soccer partners, and the rest of the soccer content is renewed or acquired on a regular basis. “We are very much secured for the long term as far as soccer is concerned,” he adds.

Is there a price correction in rights fee? “We do not know about correction, but to answer your question—the logic and sense is going to prevail in future in terms of both content cost and its monetisation potential of the content. And this can already be seen in the recent acquisition of soccer properties,” Sethi says.