Television

Sony to offer interactive feed for World Cup in DTH, Cas homes

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MUMBAI: With the World Cup scheduled to kick off later this month, Sony is ready with a few plans up its sleeve. One of these involves adding a value added feed for direct-to-home (DTH) and Cas (conditional access system) subscribers.



Addressing a media briefing this afternoon Sony Entertainment Television (SET) India CEO Kunal Dasgupta says that the channel is looking at having two angles - stumps and mid wicket. They are also looking at making this interactive feed available in Cas homes. "The coverage from different camera angles will help DTH. We are also in talks with multi-system operators (MSOs) to offer this to their set-top box subscribers," Dasgupta adds.



SET India has sold out its entire inventory for the World Cup and expects an all-time high audience for the big event with the matches favourably positioned for prime time viewing in India. The company had earlier indicated that it was targeting Rs 5 billion in ad revenues from the ICC Championship and World Cup.



The matches will not be shown on flagship Hindi general entertainment channel Sony TV (they will be telecast on Max, Sab and Pix) as the cricket telecast will disrupt viewing of its tradional programming content. Instead, the movie list on the Sony channel will be enhanced during the World Cup.



"We are in the process of rebuilding Sony TV which has slipped from its number two position. When we put up matches on the channel in the last World Cup, we suffered. We won't make that mistake this time. We are getting Indian Idol back and in the coming three to four months we will be coming out with new shows that we are confident will see the channel move up," says Dasgupta.



Sab TV, which Sony acquired to have a two-channel strategy in the general entertainment space, will be relaunched after the World Cup.



In terms of viewership, Dasgupta says that the number of C&S homes have more than doubled from 32 million when the previous World Cup took place in 2003 in South Africa. DTH platforms will also give a boost. "There is a strong lead in which was not the case in South Africa where matches started at 2:30 in the afternoon."



He adds that this time there will be a lot of out of home viewing as the match starts at 7 pm. Already 70 organisations have asked Sony for permission to air matches during parties. "Places like Goa will have a carnival atmosphere. The trend will be for people to watch matches till late in the night. The World Cup will really kick off from 23 March when India plays Sri Lanka."



Dasgupta, however, was critical of the high acquisition cost for cricket properties. "As a standalone, it is a loss leader in the portfolio. You take it to boost other areas of the network like distribution and weaker properties."



In terms of ad revenue Sony recently came out with a 12 match package for spots. This involves the India games, the semi finals and the final. The other spots package it offers to advertisers is for the final 27 matches.



Doordarshan will get to telecast 19 (including the India contests, semi-finals and final) out of the 51 World Cup matches.

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