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Does Sony benefit from broadcasting football in India?

Sony considers the Euros as a premium property but do advertisers think the same?

The Euros have always been considered a festival for the world of football. A celebration of nations competing against each other. The fans of the world’s most favourite sport await for the summer every year, whether it be the Euros, Copa America, or the World Cup, but as the world went into shutdown last year, football fans did the same. The Euros and the Copa America faced a delay of over a year, but to everyone’s relief, they are back in 2021.

The Euros and Copa America are two tournaments watched around by millions as some of the biggest footballing nations battle it out in an action-packed event almost every summer. This gives brands a massive opportunity to bring their marketing for the event watched by every demographic on Earth. Brands like Alipay, Volkswagen, FedEx, TCL, Coca Cola, VIVO, Heineken, Tik TokAdidas, Nike, Qatar Airways, and others have gone all out to partner with these events for multiple years.

Sony Picture Sports Networks (SPSN) have held the rights to these mega-events for the longest time in India. While Sony has dominated most of the football broadcasting in India with all UEFA competitions and several European Leagues, it has always been in a battle with Star India for sports broadcasting with the Premier League and Indian Cricket being broadcasted, on Star Sports.

The two TV giants have always been in a bidding war for some of the most premium sports properties in the world. The sporting properties like the Premier League and IPL attract advertisers, which bring in revenue for the TV networks. The World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand brought a reported amount of ₹ 90 Cr in ad revenue to the broadcaster Star Sports over the 6 days with over 30 advertisers and 16 sponsors. The IPL brings over ₹ 2500 Cr consistently despite the pandemic to Star with a 10-second slot worth over 13 Lakh for advertisers.

Over on Sony’s side, they have some of the most premium and attractive sporting leagues in their portfolio, like the UEFA Champions League, but they do not garner the same advertising interest. Sony has also targeted ₹ 200 Cr in ad revenue for Euros and Copa America. However, based on the interest so far, it seems unlikely with only a few advertisements showing up across games on TV. So the question is, why do premium properties in sports do not get much interest as cricket in India?

The Euros and Copa America have been some of the most exciting and oldest tournaments in football as previously mentioned, turn the heads of every big corporation for sponsorship worldwide. The competitions do not hold a good penetration in India, with only specific regions watching the games that are in a small demographic, mostly younger viewers in metropolitan areas and a few eastern and southern states. This impacted the already subdued advertisement market. The reason behind a low interest from local advertisers also includes the time of the games in the Euros, which are not suitable for primetime viewership on Indian Television, with games starting way past midnight in the Euros and the Copa America games being in the early hours of the morning.

Another major factor behind local brands not chasing football is the unfriendly structure of the sport. Unlike cricket, football cannot have breaks in between games and the break during halftime sees a massive drop in viewership as the sport sees no action during halftime.

On the bright side, the Euros and Copa America have seen a ton of interest in Sony’s new OTT platform, Sony Liv. The platform has seen a lot of interest from digital brands, including WazirX, Dell, Acko Insurance and Betway with substantial inventory buys from mobile handsets, auto, e-commerce, and technology brands. The reason behind this interest is the pre-roll feature on online streaming, making it more advertisement friendly and the lower restrictions by the government.

There has also been a lot of interest from local advertisers in the upcoming India tour of Srilanka, starting immediately after the Euro Finals on July 13. Sony can make massive gains in advertising revenue. The lineup includes Byju’s, Pan Bahar, Amazon Prime, 99 acres.com, Cars 24, Oppo, Tata Motors, Raj Niwas, Vimal, Kent, Unacademy, Housing.com, Policy Bazaar, Paisa Bazaar, and Dafa News.

The never-ending war of events will always continue between India’s largest sporting Networks. Despite this, Sony has continued to stay in business by carving out its own path through different sports since losing the rights of the IPL in 2018.

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