“We are already the home of international football. As we see it, we are definitely going to be up there with the leaders by the end of the year”
Sohini Sen | Mumbai | January 17, 2014
Sony Six has just acquired the rights for FIFA World Cup 2014 and 2018. Given that these are the biggest sports properties, how do you plan to leverage these to promote the channel? From a programming perspective, 2014 is an important year for us. Starting with the 5 ODIs for the India-New Zealand series, we will have an array of sports lined up for this year. We have IPL (April- May), FIFA (June-July), European Qualifier, NBA and Australian Open. We also have two badminton properties which will be held in India this year.
As you will notice, we are trying to differentiate ourselves with our programming. There is a lot of latent potential in different sports which is what we are seeking to show.
How do you plan to market this property? We enjoy a natural advantage as the sole right owners for FIFA. Sony Six itself would be the strongest platform for this, along with the support of the entire network. We will have a 360 degree campaign compassing radio, television, print, etc., though right now it is too early to give definite answers.
Do you think these acquisitions will help Six becoming the leader in some time? Star Sports is a very strong competition. But then again, they have been there for 10-15 years. We are a one-year-old sport channel – and we are a very strong one-year-old channel.
This year itself we have seen an increased interest in differentiated sports like basketball and European football. International football is an underdeveloped market in India while the culture of basketball is only 4-5 years old here. We can grow even further.
We are already the home of international football. We will soon also be the home of international basketball. As we see it, even if we are not number one, we are definitely going to be up there with the leaders by the end of the year.
This month Sony Six also acquired the rights for Indian cricket team’s New Zealand tour in February 2014. Strangely, in February 2013, Neo Sports had bought the rights for all domestic and international cricket played in New Zealand until 2020. What happened to that deal?
I don't know exactly what has happened in that respect. But we got a call from New Zealand asking us to be the partner for the India-New Zealand series. And we agreed because it was a very good opportunity and we had worked with them previously as well.
Will all properties on Sony Six be also streamed on Sony Liv? As of now we have acquired the rights for the India-New Zealand cricket series. Beyond that what strategy we will follow for other properties is yet to be decided. Obviously, we have purchased the digital rights of most properties as well, but the digital strategy will have to be worked on. The immediate focus is still on the New Zealand series.
Star Sports has a lot of differential sports programming. Keeping that in mind, how do you plan your strategy? Like I said before, Star has been there for quite some time while we are the strongest one-year-old channel in the genre. We are still identifying our focus areas while Star has embarked in a particular direction. We will keep experimenting and trying out different things.
Having said that, one must know that India has a market which is big enough for multiple players. There is also potential for multiple sports in the country. We have identified a specific area for ourselves. Therefore, it is not that we are taking someone head on, but rather carving out a niche for ourselves.