MUMBAI: Multi Screen Media’s sports channel Sony Six has recently acquired the rights of some very niche and diverse sports. And it has upped the ante with Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) the direct competitor to one of the biggest sporting brands in the world - World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
TNA executive VP Andy Barton says: “TNA is a young brand compared to its competition and we found a similar fit with Sony Six, which is also a fairly young brand and it already has properties like UFC and IPL; the ideas that they brought to the table were just too good to resist and that is how the multi-year deal came about.”
TNA manages every aspect of production internally to bring fans more than 500 hours of original content each year. It produces exclusive entertainment for more than five million viewers in 14 languages each week to more than 100 countries.
MSM executive VP and business head Sony Six Prasanna Krishnan says: “There is a strong culture of fight sports in this country, but from a television perspective it is an area that has always been neglected or inadequately promoted in India. Our effort and idea is to bring together the best of fight sports - whatever be the segment - to Indian viewers. Thus, we are on the right course by partnering with big brands like UFC and TNA; we as a channel want to have a wide array of fight sports to suit everyone’s preference in the country.”
The channel will be airing 500 hours of fresh content from TNA over a period of one year in the multi-year contract. This will include Impact Wrestling (TNA’s weekly televised show); and annual mainstays like March’s Lockdown, June’s Slammiversary and October’s Bound for Glory anchor the lineup for pay-per-views.
Sony Six, which has dabbled with Hindi commentary in the past with properties like IPL will first be looking at trying out the product and stabilising it before experimenting with the language innovations, but it is on the cards. TNA will be available in both the SD as well as HD feeds.
MSM COO N P Singh says: “Wrestling in India is huge as we have a very long wrestling tradition with Kushti and with our wrestlers performing and winning on international platforms; it has renewed interest in wrestling as a sport. TNA is an established brand and has been around for some time now, but it’s a brand that hasn’t received the kind of push that it deserves.”
During their visit, Kurt and Gail will be a part of a variety of promotional events to seed the growth of wrestling in India. Setting a different pace to the stars visit, Six and TNA have taken an unconventional route to the tour by featuring the city of Lucknow as one of the pit stop in a promotional tour that will see them visit Mumbai, Lucknow and Delhi between 9 and 13 December.
Krishnan adds: “The television side of the deal is just one side of it, our idea is to take the sport to the grass root levels and thus we will be touring Lucknow in the three city tour this coming week to reach out to the heartland of wrestling in India. Thus, we are just not investing in the brand as a business proposition but looking at the bigger picture.”
The entire network will be used to promote the TNA brand very aggressively and one big initiative that it has taken is to get Kurt Angle to be a part of a popular show on Sab TV - Balveer - where the protagonist will be seen in a duel with the superstar. The network plans to capture the attention of all its GEC viewers through such initiatives and give the brand a heavy push.
Besides TNA, the company is well known to exclusively broadcast some of the world’s largest as well as celebrated international sporting properties like The Pepsi IPL, UEFA EURO 2016, qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2016 and the European qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2018, The NBA and The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).