FIFA World Cup to add Rs 150 crore to ESPN STAR Sports' kitty

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 14, 2010
ESPN STAR Sports is the official broadcaster of the FIFA World Cup, which began on June 11 in South Africa. The broadcaster will showcase all the 64 matches of the World Cup

The ongoing FIFA World Cup, which began in South Africa on June 11, is all set to make its Indian broadcaster, ESPN STAR Sports richer by Rs 150 crore.

The sports channel, which has exclusive telecast rights for all 64 matches of the FIFA World Cup, has managed to get on-board an impressive list of advertisers. With the tournament in progress, the final list of sponsors includes Vodafone and Airtel DTH as the joint presenting sponsors; while, Nokia, Samsung and Hero Honda are the associate sponsors.

& #BANNER1 & #Other brands, which have gone for 10-second ad-spots during the tournament, include Parle Agro, Pernod Ricard, Micromax, BPCL, Coca Cola and Jhaveri Industries.

As per industry estimates, ESPN STAR Sports has charged Rs 2.5 lakh for a 10-second ad spot during the FIFA World Cup. In comparison, IPL matches got an ad rate of Rs 4.5 lakh for a 10-second spot.

Highlighting the relevance of the biggest soccer event for ESPN STAR Sports, Rathindra Basu, director, business development, ESPN Software India, says, "The soccer following has increased manifold over the last few years in the country. For instance, Barclays Premier League's just concluded season was sampled by an impressive 60 million plus individuals. However, the FIFA World Cup takes football mania to a completely different level."

To prove his point, Basu shares viewership numbers for the last two editions of FIFA World Cup. The 2002 FIFA World Cup was sampled by 34 million individuals. The 2006 edition saw a growth close to 50 percent, with more than 50 million individuals watching the tournament. Quoting TAM data (C&S M, 15+ ABC), he says that the 2006 tournament generated an average rating of 1.95.

The channel's promotional strategy for the event is built on getting fans to rally behind their favorite teams and stars. The lead campaign, which comprised a series of TVCs, hit the airwaves during the ICC World T20 (April 27-May 16). It focused on highlighting key teams and stars, including Rooney (England), Kaka (Brazil), Messi (Argentina), Torres (Spain) and Ronaldo (Portugal); thus building curiosity around the tournament.

The channel is also organizing special screenings of the games at various public locations, including hotels, pubs and restaurants.

Commenting on the programming fare being dished out during the tournament, Basu says, "We looked at it in two parts -- pre-event programming and the live programming around the FIFA World Cup. The aim of the pre-event programming was to make the sports fans more aware of the key teams and stars; so that viewers would look forward to catching them in action during the tournament, by being in a more informed position."

As part of the pre-event programming, a series called 'The Contenders' profiled the participating countries in the FIFA World Cup 2010. The channel also showcased interesting encounters in the past, taking fans through memory lane, and giving them a flavour of what's to come. This is further being supplemented by special programming on SportsCenter, which features interesting stories on various aspects of the World Cup.

With an aim to enhance the viewer experience of watching the matches, the live broadcast of all the games is supported by 60-minutes pre-game, and about 30-minutes post-game shows, led by the channel's team of presenters -- John Dykes and Mayanti Langer.

For expert opinions and viewpoints, ESPN STAR Sports has roped in Gerry Armstrong; ex-England International, Paul Parker; and the sports channel's football pundits -- Shebby Singh, Paul Masefield and Jamie Reeves.

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