ESS kicks off Euro 2004 media blitz

NEW DELHI: What do you do when you don't have the hottest sporting properties (read cricket) that ignite India? Create hype around other leading events, what else! Asia's leading sports broadcaster ESPN-Star Sports is a doing just that.

Of course, it helps that the biggest soccer tournament after the World Cup - The Uefa European Championship is on the menu.



Today, ESS announced grand plans to promote Euro 2004- which begins in Portugal next month- across India. The marketing and promotional blitz is expected to cost Rs 16 million to ESPN-Star Sports.

According to ESPN Software India pvt ltd director advertising sales Sanjay Kailash, "Growing popularity of soccer in the country has led to an increase in corporate interest for Euro 2004. Our strategy of fueling soccer growth in the country is paying dividends. We have already sold 80 per cent of advertising inventory for the championship."

The football buffs in Hindi speaking areas will have more reasons to cheer with the company announcing plans to provide Hindi commentary for the tournament. The Hindi commentators would be based in the Singapore studio of ESPN. One of the more known faces of Indian soccer, Bhaichung Bhutia, would be a special analyst for the mega event and would be traveling to Singapore after India's Olympic qualifying match against Japan on 9 June.

The marketing blitz also includes using on-air promos, outdoor media like hoardings, public transport vehicles, metro rail in Kolkata, double-decker buses in Mumbai and cinemas to reach out to the target audience.

Elaborating on the communication strategy, a company executive said, "Euro 2004 is positioned as 'The biggest soccer battle' thereby emphasising that big teams and big players are participating in the tournament. The entire promotion campaign brings to the fore intense rivalries amongst the competing European nations."

Besides telecasting this mega event live to the TV audience in the Indian subcontinent, ESS will also produce daily half hour pre-match highlights complemented with four weekly one-hour highlights. Samsung would be the presenting sponsor for the television event. This football package will include specially taped programmes such as The Story of the Uefa European Football Championships, The Road to Uefa Euro 2004, The Golden Moments, The Stars of the Uefa European Football Championships and The Stars of Uefa Euro 2004.

Making a lengthy presentation during a press conference here today, ESPN executives said that soccer viewership has been on the rise in India. Fifa World Cup put soccer in a different league, reaching out to a cumulative audience of 627 million. European club soccer like EPL reached out to a cumulative audience of 206.7 million, in only the six metros in 2003 and 71 per cent of C&S individuals in the six metros sampled the EPL in 2003. The Fifa World Cup registered 9.1 TVR (males, 15+, SEC A, B & C, C&S households) on an all-India basis, which is comparable to top performing soaps and ODI's, ESPN claimed.

Last year ESPN Star Sports showcased the IFA Shield, the first time a C&S channel showcased Indian domestic football, and the final registered a TVR of 11.9 (males, 15+, SEC A, B & C, C&S households) in Kolkata. The telecast of IFA reached out to 1.3 million people in Kolkata and 4.2 million on an all-India basis. At that time, ESPN had a channel share of 50.5 per cent in Kolkata. The IFA shield final was the second highest rated non-cricketing sports event in Kolkata in 2003.

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