No India cricket? No problem for Sony as it sets sights on the goalpost

MUMBAI:Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) has identified the country’s second most followed sport, football, as a growth driver for its sports broadcasting business and is positioning SPN Sports as the home to international football.

Strengthening its football roaster, SPN boasts of eight premier international football properties: UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, LaLiga, Serie A, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Nations League and UEFA EURO 2020.

With the recent addition of the UEFA Nations League and EURO 2020, SPN will air more than 800 football games per year. Including the Euro qualifiers, over 1,200 hours of top football action will be available for the fans on the network, claimed Rajesh Kaul, head of sports business at SPN.

“We have seen very strong growth in both viewership and reach of football over the last year. And, after the recent success of the FIFA World Cup, we are very sure of the football story. So be it national team or club football, we have acquired and retained rights to the best properties in the world,”Kaul added. SPN is especially upbeat about European football as the top four teams in the recently concluded FIFA World Cup Russia were all from Europe.

Football, as a sport, has seen massive following among youngsters.

More than 500 million viewers have sampled the sport in the last financial year. The reach for football in the Hindi-speaking markets has also grown, with 63% of the reach for the recently held FIFA World Cup coming from the region.

While cricket continues to be the top draw when it comes to sports viewership in India, the media rights of India cricket don’t come cheap — a fact that SPN learned the hard way after losing out to rival Star India. SPN, meanwhile, has picked up rights of seven cricket boards: England, Australia, West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Sports broadcasting experts said SPN’s move may not earn top dollars in advertising revenue. But football rights for India are much cheaper and there is a high chance of recovering investments, whereas the Indian cricket board rights and IPL are too costly and loss making for the rights holder.


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