Sony Pictures Sports Networks ropes in marquee advertisers for its cricket properties

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MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Sports Network has roped in marquee brands as advertisers for the on-going England-Australia (Ashes) and India-West Indies series. The Ashes, which kicked off on 1st August, will be played till 16th September. The India-West Indies series will be played from 3rd August to 3rd September.

The broadcaster has roped in brands like Xiaomi, Idea/Vodafone, Bajaj Auto, Naukri.com, Ultratech, Amazon.in, Pernod Ricard, Byju’s, Pharmeasy, My Team X1.com, Shikhar pan masala, Apple, Netflix, Mankind pharma, Bharat Matrimony, My circle 11.com and Kent as sponsors for the two series.

In a major boost for the broadcaster, the BCCI has sent a full team for the West Indies tour. Earlier there were reports that a few players might be rested. However, that not being the case the series has attracted a strong response from advertisers and got several major brands.

“The Ashes and India tour of West Indies are both marquee cricket series and we definitely have sponsor interest for both the properties. Both these cricket series have been enjoyed by fans for years together and we expect this year to be no different. Also, the timing of the series is a great opportunity for brands to make use of this platform for upcoming festive promotion and campaigns,” Sony Pictures Networks India (SP) chief revenue officer, distribution and head – sports business Rajesh Kaul tells Televisionost.com.

He further stated that there are regular Indian cricket advertisers as well as international advertisers who are interested in using these series as a platform to communicate and advertise.

The action for Sony in the sporting arena goes beyond cricket in 2019. Later on, other major properties for the sports broadcaster will include the UEFA EURO 2020, India Tour of Australia, Asian Games and Olympics 2020. WWE is the major weekly sports property that keeps the broadcaster in the public eye even without India cricket.

“The year 2020 is going to be an exciting year for Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN), with several marquee properties on our network. We will be telecasting the marquee sporting events like Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and UEFA EURO 2020 along with a lot of exciting international cricket including India Tour of Australia,” he stated.

“There will also be audience favorites WWE, UFC, NBA, UEFA Champions League, Serie A, ATP World Tours and many more will also feature on SPSN channels for all sports lovers in India. Our viewers have a lot to look forward to in the coming year.”

He noted that the focus is going to rest on increasing engagement with the wider audiences and enhancing their viewing experience, which he sees as being an opportunity rather than a challenge. “This year so far has been an exciting one for us until now with the telecast of various marquee sports events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup, UEFA Champions League, WWE WrestleMania 35, India tour of Australia, Australian Open, Pro Wrestling League and many more.”

Kaul said that the response for each of these has been very promising. “We look forward to the second half of 2019 with more cricket on our network. The Ashes, India tour of West Indies and New Zealand tour of Sri Lanka. We will also at the start of the new football season of UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Serie A, LaLiga amongst others along with the second season of Pro Volleyball League and the first-ever NBA India Games in October.”

Talking about the new tariff order (NTO) and the marketing approach now being adopted he mentioned that the sports business has always been a consumer-first business. “We have always strived to strike a relationship with sports lovers across the country. With our ever-increasing commitment to broadcast different types of sports and sport entertainment events from across the globe, we aim to take this relationship further in the coming years through exciting content for our vivid viewer base.”

Talking about the cricket programming initiatives for the two series he said that to add to the pre-game and post-game enthusiasm of the fans, the broadcaster is running multiple marketing and programming initiatives to increase engagement.

“To name a few, there will be SPSN’s celebrated live wrap-around show, Extraaa Innings featuring a host of experts. Sir Vivian Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Graeme Swann, Murali Kartik, Darren Ganga and Ian Bishop will present comprehensive pre, mid and post-match expert analyses in English, while Ashish Nehra, Ajay Jadeja, Mohammad Kaif and Vivek Razdan along with presenters Gaurav Kapur and Arjun Pandit will be presenting in Hindi.

“We will also telecast ‘Cricket Talk’, a show that will provide previews and reviews amid others. In the marketing segment, we have two individual campaigns running for the two-cricket tournaments, along with a recently launched a campaign, #MoreCricket that captures the sentiments of every Indian who loves cricket.”

He also said that for the India-West Indies series the time difference won’t be an issue at all, as the matches will commence in the morning as per West Indies time, which will be evenings in India – which is a good slot to watch sports for Indians. “Furthermore, Indians love the sport of cricket, a factor that ensures the fans consume the sport at any time of the day. In addition, given the strong squads and thrill both the teams are bringing in, we believe the timings are not a hurdle at all for viewership.”

When asked about the role of language feeds he said that Sony Ten 3 channels feature sports content with the Hindi language feeds. “We also realise the importance of localization of content for other regional markets and have provided regional language feeds for several properties on our sports network.”

Recently, SPSN had telecast WWE Wrestlemania 35 in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. WWE Raw and Smackdown are also telecast live in English & Hindi on a weekly basis. In football, for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it had live feeds in six languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Telugu, and Tamil, and five language feeds for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India amongst others. “Language feeds and channels are a consumer-driven need and we are always exploring localization of content,” Kaul averred.

In terms of multi-country and multi-discipline sports events, he noted that the Olympic Games is the most prestigious platform in the world and for any sportsman, it is the ultimate aim in life to bring home an Olympic medal.

“The Indian sportsmen and athletes have consistently qualified for and competed against the best athletes at the Olympic Games and other international tournaments, and performed well. It is always exciting for viewers to watch Indians compete in neck-to-neck levels against premier international players. The Olympics are huge, not only for SPSN but also for every individual and every participating nation, as it is a platform of the Gods in the sporting world.”


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