Non-cricketing sports seem to be catching up at last in India! According to industry observers, sports as a genre has evolved beyond cricket and the popularity of the Euro Cup 2012 is just another example amongst many more to come.
UEFA Euro Cup finals have witnessed about 12 per cent increase in viewership, from 2.25 TVRs (2008 series) to 2.52 TVRs in the current series. The semi finals of the current series have garnered average ratings of 1.72 TVRs, while the earlier semi-finals averaged at 1.16 TVRs.
The average event viewership has also increased from 0.7 TVRs (2008) to 0.88 TVRs (2012), as per TAM data provided by one of the subscribers of TAM software.
Marketers believe that the major reason for this increase is the growing interest and accessibility of the game for the younger generation. The reach of the event has also grown by 20 per cent. Where the earlier season reached out to about 15.77 million viewers, the current season (2012) reportedly reached out to 19 million viewers.
Priti Murthy, director, customer insights, Maxus states that the overall PR around football has been gearing up all these years. "Sports beyond cricket is growing in India. So much so that, on the ground level, even the schools and colleges are considering other sports and the younger generation is getting exposed to non-cricketing sports almost equally," she says.
Another media analyst mentions that the broadcast reach of football has also increased. According to TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research, if football had a reach of 83 million in 2008, and it has touched 121 million by the first half of 2011. However, cricket still ahead with a reach of about 195 million.
"So much is the momentum achieved by the professional sporting events that the odd hours of telecast are no longer an obstruction for the events," says Suriyanarayan.
UEFA Euro Cup is the European football tournament that occurs once every four years. The earlier season of the tournament was broadcast by ESPN-STAR Sports (ESS, now completely owned by News Corp since June). The rights of the series were, however, transferred to Neo Sports under the deal which includes UEFA Euro 2012, 2012 UEFA Euro Under-21 and UEFA Women's Euro 2013.
As per industry estimates, ESS had clocked revenues of about Rs 25 crore, while Neo has made approximately Rs 40 crore from the current season of the tournament. Sources close to the channel inform that the ad rates for a 10-seconder went higher (about Rs 1.5 to 2 lakh per 10-seconds) during the matches in the quarter finals onwards. The rates were increased by about 40 per cent for the last seven matches, including four quarter finals, two semi-finals and the final.
The current event had broadcast sponsors like Carlsberg, Cadburys, Reliance Net Connect, DHL and Intel Xolo.
A few marketers believe that the advent of digitisation and the decreasing costs of flatrons have also added to the sports viewing experiences of the viewers.
The marketers also believe that the advertisers have realised that sports with niche audiences also fair well. "The audiences of the niche sporting events, which mostly include the younger generation, are being targeted by the advertisers. Plus, the promotions of the event also make many promises to the brands," adds Murthy of Maxus.
She says that while there weren't much social and digital media to reach out to the masses back in 2008, the advent of social networking must have surely helped the tournament grow in the current season.
Neo, the broadcaster of the recently ended Euro Cup 2012, had expected revenues of about Rs 50 crore from the tournament. Prasana Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports, says, "Football is in a strong phase. It is growing exponentially and the development process is the best time of any trend."