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SonyLIV aims to provide comprehensive CWG coverage

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MUMBAI: 2018, the year of major sports tournaments including the Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games (CWG) and the FIFA World Cup, is expected to witness a rise in consumption of live sports events on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. The CWG action is currently taking place at Gold Coast, Australia and Sony Pictures Network (SPN) is the official broadcast rights holder for the country.

The live coverage is being shown the network’s TV channels as well as its OTT platform SonyLiv concurrently without any time lag.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, SPN digital head Uday Sodhi said that SonyLiv would telecast the live action in nine feeds thus giving more focus to each event. For TV, Sony is broadcasting the event only on three channels. “We’re giving a far more comprehensive coverage for digital viewers with nine channels on digital versus three on TV,” said Sodhi.

Viewers can watch the action without the barrier of a paywall while the network goes after advertisers for revenue. The only fly in the ointment is that the coverage is restricted to English and Hindi.

SPN is well aware that the Indian Premier League (IPL), its former prized property child that is currently in the hands of Star India, is likely to eat into its viewership after its opening on 7 April. To keep viewers drawn, it launched a patriotic campaign called #RangDeTiranga, which taps into people’s love for the country and is a hint that the CWG is a tournament of national importance. Sodhi said that the campaign had been a hit both on TV and digital.

“The #RangDeTiranga campaign is SPN’s rallying cry that taps into the emotions of Indian sports fans and asks them to show their support for the tricolour. It brings alive our ethos to go beyond and cultivate a multi-sport viewing culture in India. Our intent is to bind the sports fans in a one game-cry ‘Rang de Tiranga’ and give them the opportunity to watch their heroes bring glory to the nation,” SPSN senior VP marketing and OAP Kedar Teny said earlier.

Right after the CWG, SPN will dive into the FIFA 2018 World Cup, which is to be held in Russia this year. With much of the action set to occur at Moscow and St Petersberg, which are 2.5 hours behind India, the digital feed will help people to tune into the action from the comfort of their beds. India also has a young population tuning into football, the same kind who don’t hesitate to pick OTT over TV. Sony hasn’t yet clarified whether the digital FIFA coverage will be AVOD, SVOD or both.

Sony is carving a niche for itself on the OTT side as a sports player after it noticed that its users were glued to sporting events. “35-40 per cent of our traffic comes from hardcore sports followers. This shoots up during large sporting events and then the share gets bigger. Time spent varies from 25 to 40 minutes,” Sodhi said in an earlier interview to Indiantelevision.com. While cricket is the first choice, football is the second most popular sport of viewers on SonyLiv.

Locking different sporting events this year, SonyLiv is aiming to get more viewership and will look to acquire more, especially since it lost two crucial bids to Star–the BCCI media rights for Team India’s home matches and the IPL, thus forfeiting a large chunk sports viewership online to Hotstar, the OTT arm of Star.

In the last few years, India has witnessed a huge change in sports broadcasting. With increasing use of OTT platforms due to smartphones and data affordability, broadcasters are streaming live feeds of sports events, even challenging the business of international players such as Amazon and Netflix. For now, these international players haven’t jumped into India’s sports fray giving SonyLiv and Hotstar an opportunity to take the lead.

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