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“Main audience pockets for LaLiga in India come from the South, the Northeast, and urban cities”: Anshul Ailawadi, Viacom18

A quick chat with the broadcaster’s business head for youth and English on the LaLiga’s march towards gaining football supremacy in India.

The LaLiga wants to grow and become the most popular football league, especially in India where it trails behind the behemoth called the English Premier League.

Spain’s top professional football division has taken steps to succeed in India. It opened its first India office towards the end of 2016 and signed up with Facebook for the digital broadcast of the league.

It was only last year (2020) that many were surprised to learn that Viacom18 had taken over and would broadcast the LaLiga matches on Voot and MTV. Yes, a music channel broadcasting sports content.

Let’s call it the great experiment shall we? But, don’t think it is the first because many moons ago, we’d watched the ICC Cricket World on Set Max along with the pre and post-match ‘Extra Innings’ show.

Speaking to us at the second edition of the ‘LaLiga Extra Time India’, Anshul Ailawadi, Business Head - Youth & English Cluster, Viacom18, tells us that one major miss for them is the fact that “if it weren’t for the pandemic, we’d have liked to make sure more people get a chance to experience LaLiga in person.”

On the other hand, the biggest hit for the broadcaster, as per Ailawadi was its “ability to mount the LaLiga across multiple platforms - build it on the ground, on social, on TV, and on digital.”

People across India watch the LaLiga but “the main pockets come from the South and parts of the northeast, and urban centres Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi.” So who advertises more? National brands or regional brands. Says Ailawadi, “ On MTV, LaLiga had all national brands and we’d some advertisers from the south too.”

As a broadcaster, if you look at the English Premier League, people are fans of not only the big clubs like Manchester United or Liverpool, they support other clubs too say West Ham United. Unfortunately, it’s not the case with the LaLiga, it is still a brand-building exercise. Seeing Viacom18 and Voot feels like an agency-client relationship and the client’s brief was simple - popularise the league. Has the broadcaster been focusing on the other clubs?

“This is year one and for us, it was making sure we understand what we are doing something like this on MTV. We’re looking to capture the support that already exists for all these clubs. We’ve got Clubhouse sessions where conversations go beyond Barca and Madrid. If you look at the stuff we’ve done when we launched like influencer campaigns, it was broad-based…” remarks Ailawadi.

All the ad campaigns doled out to popularise the league were made in-house by Viacom18.

And as year one ends, it is another interesting time for Viacom18 because it will, in April, launch a sports channel called Sports18 and has the rights for LaLiga, the upcoming Football World Cup 2022, Ligue1, and NBA.

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