Sony Six looks to chase viewership and not brands for NBA

MUMBAI: With the National Basketball Association (NBA) telecast rights for the season in its kitty; Sony Six is taking a distinctive approach towards the sports property.

While traditionally broadcasters chase brands to rake in ad sales revenue from its big-ticket sports franchises, Sony Six is looking at pulling in viewers for the game, which is telecast early morning on the channel.

The channel is all set to premiere the NBA Finals featuring the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors. The NBA Finals is the championship series of the 2014–15 season of the NBA and the conclusion of the season's playoffs.

Speaking on the channel’s strategy to grow ‘breakfast viewership’ for the game in India, Sony Six and Sony Kix EVP and business head Prasana Krishnan tells, “We are in the developing process now and the prime goal is not to get brands and sell inventory at this stage. Currently, we are concentrating on developing a substantial following for the sport, which will help us in the long run. We are looking at a long-term deal with NBA India and the key is viewership now. I believe it’s better not to sell instead of selling at a low rate.And that’s the reason why we never went aggressively to sell. That is not our priority at this stage.”

Speaking about the final, Krishnan says, “Overall it has been a great season for NBA fans as uncertainties orchestrated the season. Ecstasy, agony, passion… everything was there in the series so far and if the final goes to the 7th game it will be a perfect ending for us as a broadcaster because viewers will have a worthy treat.”

Breakfast viewership is a relatively new concept and NBA India in association with Sony Six has been pushing aggressively across different mediums to promote it.

Upbeat about the finals, NBA India managing director Yannick Colaco says, “The love for NBA in India is growing at a brisk pace and the finals will certainly help it.We have launched various social media campaigns to garner as much traction as possible. We have also organised breakfast viewing get together with our clients.So the finals are going to be utterly exciting.”

Speaking on the growth of the sport in India, Colaco says, “We are growing at triple digit percentile in every aspect whether it is merchandising, social media impressionsor television viewership, which is very encouraging as we see good prospect in long run.”

While the sport may have a good prospect, it is suffering due to lack of endeavor made to promote the sport feels Madison Media Omega COO Dinesh Singh Rathod. “NBA, which is a part of breakfast viewership is there since a long time but it has been treated as another brick in the wall and no aggressive efforts were made by any broadcasters till date to properly promote a sport like NBA. Timing is another factor that plays a vital role against the development.Cricket too, if played in a time slot like this will face problems and the ad rates will go down. So overall for fans,the NBA final is a treat to watch but from a business perspective I feel lot of hard work has to be done to sell slots at a high rate,” he says.

This is the first time since 1998 that none of the participants in the Finals are the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs, or the Miami Heat. Coincidentally, this is also the first NBA Finals to not feature Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, or Dwyane Wade since 1998 and the fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance for Cleveland teammates LeBron James and James Jones, who both played for the Miami Heat the previous four seasons. The finals feature two teams with title droughts of four decades, with the Cavaliers having never won since their 1970–71 inception and the Warriors' last title in 1975.

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