Online players cash-in on Fifa World cup & score goals with web content: IAMAI

BANGALORE: The Football world cup, which concluded last week, attracted sports lovers across the globe to the Internet. All major portals and mobile content providers in India had specially redesigned their content for the World Cup to feed the demand of football fans.

Online add-ons such as mobile download of wallpapers of some of the popular football players and online and mobile games attracted the maximum number of fans to the internet, according to an official release from the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

Says IAMAI president Dr Subho Ray, "The World Cup bonanza shows that the Internet has emerged not only as an alternative medium but as a parallel medium to a large section of the people in India. With the advent of broadband as well as mobile phones, it is possible to keep a track of the matches even on the go. Websites and mobile content companies are gradually realising the potential of both these mediums and hence are increasingly beefing up their content for such mega events and in the process successfully attracting more and more users and advertisers".

HT Media, for example, recorded a 5 per cent to 7 per cent increase in the online revenues, claims Hindustan Times GM Business Development Salil Kumar. Kumar also mentioned that the number of hits during the prime time period at 9 30 pm reached an average of 15,00,000, at post-midnight averaged 20,00,000 and evening 6 30 pm reached an average 5,00,000.

According to Kumar, in terms of city-wise access to World Cup related activities, Delhi/Chandigarh topped with 40 per cent, followed by Mumbai 30 per cent, Pune 5 per cent, Ahmedabad 5 per cent, Bangalore 10 per cent, Hyderabad 5 per cent and others 5 per cent.

States Sify Ltd VP Interactive Services Surya Mantha, "Thousands of clips of World Cup football related content were viewed on Sify's broadband portal Sify Max in the first two weeks of the tournament". He added that the most watched clip was related to the Brazil v/s France match on 2 July, which was viewed 25,000 times.

Soccer fans around the world treat their favourite sport as a religion and hence increasingly want to know more and more about their favourite players. This has resulted in an offbeat category on websites, which provides other such information to the football fans. In the offbeat category, Mantha says, "A video featuring the wives/girlfriends of star football players was the most popular".

Online advertisers took full advantage of the World Cup fever. MSN India had advertisers such as Lenovo and LIC Housing, informs MSN India Sales and Marketing head R. Rajnish. He also mentioned that netizens mostly in the age group of 18-35 years visited their website for World Cup related activities, the release adds.

"For", says chief media revenue officer Arvindra Kanwal, "increased page views resulted in more ad inventory which in turn resulted in better revenue". He adds, "Football as a platform brought a set of advertisers like Ranbaxy, Maruti Swift, Gillette, Microsoft, Apollo Tyres and others. Our response in page views and sponsor interest mirrored cricket and largely caught the interest of Sec A & B urban audiences in eight metros. Smaller towns were slow to respond".

Airtel on the other hand was one of the presenting sponsors of the Fifa World Cup on ESPN, which had the exclusive telecast rights. It provided soccer fans World Cup updates, sourced from ESPN Mobile. It also offered the official song of the FIFA World Cup as a Hello Tune & Ringtone for all Airtel customers.

Says Bharti Airtel Ltd joint president (Mobility), "Football and World cup related content were among the most popular downloads on Airtel Live, the multi-access entertainment portal of Airtel. As per data available over the last 30 days, the official Fifa World Cup game is among the four most downloaded games. In this visually engaging game, gamers experienced the 12 official stadiums as they took one of their 32 national teams from qualification to glory. 'Time of Our Lives', ballad by Il Divo & Toni Braxton, which was the official Fifa World Cup song, has been among the top 10 downloaded songs in the non-film category on Airtel. Football related images were among the top five downloaded wallpapers."

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