MUMBAI: The lead-up to the FIFA World Cup 2014 has official broadcaster Sony Six sweating bullets to ensure that the extravaganza lives up to its name and all the fan frenzy around it. The ball was already set rolling a while ago when the channel launched its “Live the Magic” campaign, featuring Bollywood actor and football enthusiast John Abraham. The TVC captured the essence of Brazil, the venue of the FIFA, through its beaches, narrow streets, colourful houses and music.
Adding to it, Sony Six business head Prasana Krishnan has drawn up a comprehensive marketing blueprint for the mother of all tourneys. “Sony Six has chosen to target 10 -12 cities. TVCs and ads will be placed in 10 newspapers, including publications by the ABP group. The TVCs will be aired on 30 different channels (regional, GECs and news) in India. We are also running radio campaigns in 50 cities.”
That apart, the channel has tied up with Hard Rock Cafe as part of its on-ground activations. “This is to ensure that groups of people can come together and view the game. As part of our mall activities, we will have DJs, along with various contests and flash mobs enthralling audiences in shopping centres,” says Krishnan.
Apart from Hard Rock, other popular sports bars too will showcase the matches on giant screens. The manager of a Malad (in the western part of Mumabi)-based sports bar and grill said, “We will have two projectors and four TV sets lined up for customers to enjoy the game. A third projector will be used during important matches or when crowds swell up.”
A la competitors Tensports.com and starsports.com, the MSM group too has launched a digital sports entertainment destination called LIVsports.in. Fans can watch live matches here, captured from four different camera angles, complete with timelines, statistics, a match centre, heat maps and analyses. There are also fun activities like “Mohit Bana Messi – Jersyfy Me” and “Pehchan Kaun?” apart from the LIV sports football fantasy league.
Says MSM executive vice-president, new media, business development and digital/syndication Nitesh Kripalani: “We are giving consumers two options – either watch the LIVE HD quality match by paying a small fee; or watch the 5-minute delayed match for free. All other content like stats, analysis and engagements are available for free to users across devices.”
Kripalani adds that the "the response (to the website) has been extremely positive with the campaign breaking; the numbers are more than quadrupling per day. More than 90 per cent visitors are from India; primarily Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore”. LIVsports.in has already signed up with Amity University, Gionee Mobile and Jabong.com and discussions are underway to get other brands on board.
As for advertisers for the World Cup, Hero MotoCorp is already on board as presenting sponsor and Xolo Mobile and Microsoft as powered by sponsors. During the recently concluded IPL, Sony Six sold 10 second ad spots for Rs 4.5 to Rs 5 lakh, while the final IPL match had advertising ratesat Rs 18 lakh to Rs 20 lakh fo a 10 second spot (media planners, however, pegged this at Rs 14 lakh to Rs 16 lakh). For FIFA, it is selling 10-seconders for between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 2.50 lakh.
Coming to the game itself, Sony Six is seeking to leverage the viewers it gained during the IPL and increase the overall viewership base. “During the 2010 World Cup, the reach numbers were 65 million, but during this World Cup, we expect the numbers to touch 125 million in India, as trends show an increase in football viewership in India,” says a confident Krishnan.
With 32 nations battling it out on the football field, fans in India will not have to worry about international timing clashes as Sony Six will broadcast 24 games out of 64 matches live during the prime time slot of 9:30 pm.
Sony Six will also air two new shows on all match days: a wrap of the day at prime time titled ‘Cafe Rio’ and a live breakfast show called ‘Football Extraaa’. Popular names from national and international football like Peter Crouch, Robbie Fowler, Peter Shilton, Mikael Silvestre, Ellyse Perry, and Sunil Chhetri will grace the shows along with Abraham, dissecting and analysing the matches.
‘Cafe Rio’ will be telecast at 8pm and will lead up to the beginning of the match at 9.30pm; it will be a blend of sports and entertainment and will also focus on trivia about victorious teams, historical venues and players.
‘Football Extraaa’ will be a daily morning show for viewers to relive the fun and excitement of the previous day’s matches. It will be aired between 8am and 9am and will be in an interactive format where viewers can dial in and share their perspective or ask questions.
What’s more, Sony Six plans to have live commentary in Bengali. As reported earlier by indiantelevision.com, Sony Aath will broadcast live the World Cup with Bengali commentary. Aath will telecast 56 matches in Bengali. The channel aims to expand its reach through this specialized offer to its ‘Bong’ audiences.
Kripalani believes that the FIFA football action telecast during prime time will not have an impact on general entertainment channels like the IPL did, pointing out that "even if there is, it will likely be seen in Kerala or Bengal that have a large football base.”
It may be too early to foretell such an effect but all we can say is relax and get set to cheer your best team as the game unfolds in Brazil.