"I won't be surprised if we match FIFA 2014 revenue": Sony Pictures Networks' Prasana Krishnan on UEFA Euro 2016

By Anirban Roy Choudhury , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 24, 2016
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JWT has created an ad campaign to promote Sony Pictures Networks' upcoming football property UEFA Euro 2016. A look at the marketing effort.

The same lush green field. Except, it's rectangle, not oval. The ball is bigger, there's no bat and players can't use their hands. Getting sports buffs to snap out of cricket mania and tune into football is the biggest challenge facing sports broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks (SPN).

SPN's sports channels Sony Six and Sony ESPN are all set to telecast the upcoming UEFA Euro 2016 (June 10, 2016 to July 10, 2016).

The tournament involves all the top international teams of Europe and is held once every four years. UEFA re-structured the tournament and transformed it from a 16-team affair to a 24-team race. The number of matches, too, has been scaled up from 31 to 51.

Prasana Krishnan

Murtuza Madraswala

Prasana Krishnan, sports cluster business head, and EVP, Sony Pictures Networks, says about the property, "What makes it even big is the additional prime time game. Previously, there were only two games daily. We now have a game at 6.30 pm, at 9.30 pm, and at 12.30 am. So, from an India perspective it's neither too late nor too early, and the three matches cover the entire prime time slot."

In order to promote the property, JWT has created an ad campaign titled 'Time To Switch'. The objective of the campaign is to get people to shake off the cricket hangover and switch their attention to football.

About the media mix, Murtuza Madraswala, AVP, marketing, sports cluster, Sony Pictures Networks, says, "We will have outdoor, digital, TV (beyond the home network), and nation-wide print campaigns. We have broken the marketing campaign with two TVCs and will soon dish out two more. Overall, there will be four 15 second-TVCs, and two 30 second-TVCs."

Krishnan adds, "We are just coming to the end of what has been the busiest cricket calendar in a while -- Asia Cup Cricket, followed by the T20 World Cup, and then the Indian Premier League tournament -- India witnessed three high voltage cricket tournaments one after another with hardly any breathing space in-between. That is why we thought of saying it's time to switch."

While traditional football fans will hop on anyway, to get the attention of 'fringe viewers' (those who are not regular football fans, but do tune in during FIFA World Cup or Euro Cup) is the challenge facing Krishnan's team.

"During the FIFA World Cup 2014," he recalls, "the ratings of a single match were 15 times more than that of an average European league match." His target is to equal that.

SPN recently tied up with the global sports broadcasting giant ESPN, and will therefore, have access to the editorial content of ESPN. SPN will use this content during pre and post-match programming.

"ESPN being the broadcaster of the tournament in the US has set up a studio in Paris from where developments will be reported - we will use those reports. For the pre and post-match entertainment of our viewers, we will have a special studio show involving retired and renowned footballers and sports presenters," adds Krishnan.

Multi-lingual feed (that was done as an experiment during the FIFA World Cup), will be used this time, too. "We had great success with the Bangla feed last time, and we will have it this time, too. Apart from Bangla, we will have English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam," reveals Krishnan.

The Bangla feed last time was telecast by Sony Aath. This time, Sony Aath subscribers won't have that facility. To have access to the Bangla feed, consumers will have to change the language through the language change option of their set top boxes. The remote of the set-top-boxes contains the option of changing languages. "We are broadcasting the tournament on two channels, Sony Six and Sony ESPN. The latter will have only English feed while Sony Six will carry all the other language options," says Krishnan.

"This is the first major international football tournament in the BARC era. All other tournaments were played during the TAM regime," he points out.

Rohit Gupta

Uday Sodhi

He hazards, "I won't be surprised if we match FIFA 2014 revenue." If that happens, it will be 100 per cent growth when compared to Euro 2012.

According to Rohit Gupta, president, network sales, SPN is hopeful that the property will grab the fancy of India's urban youth, the segment with maximum disposable income. This has implications for the kind of advertisers the tournament attracts, he insists.

"Forty per cent of our inventory is already sold. We have signed one title and two associate sponsors (Gionee is one of them)," he shares.

In football, unlike cricket, room for advertisement is limited. The slot between the end of the first half and the start of the second half is considered prime time. These slots, informs Gupta, are being sold at "a rate of Rs 2,50,000 per 10 seconds."

The tournament will be streamed live on SPN's VOD platform Sony Liv. While the revenue model is still being finalised, Uday Sodhi, executive vice-president and head, digital business, Sony Pictures Networks India, says, "The digital coverage will have separate inventory. We will promote the streaming separately," he says.

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Vinit Karnik

Indranil Das Blah

Vinit Karnik, business head, ESP properties, (a GroupM company, which is a sports and entertainment partnerships-focussed consultancy) says, "After FIFA, this is the most popular competition, globally. This is the first time that Sony Six will telecast all 51 matches live. Sports viewership is now mapped beyond television screens. It will be interesting to see how Indian viewers consume this content."

As per his firm's Sporting Nation III Report, sponsors, broadcasters, and brands are warming up to sports beyond cricket. "Post IPL, UEFA is the biggest live sporting tournament on TV," he says, adding, "Football is growing in terms of popularity and viewer interest."

Indranil Das Blah, COO, CAA Kwan, (an entertainment and sports firm), says, "The timing of Euro 2016 is good as far as India is concerned... I have no idea what and how Sony is selling, but I think it will be a successful tournament both in terms of revenue as well as viewership."

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