Sony Six’s on-ground activities push NBA’s viewership

MUMBAI: If numbers are to be believed then basketball has started getting its due in the cricket-crazy country.

 The National Basketball Association (NBA) is seeing its popularity levels scale upwards on television thanks to a wide on-ground marketing push. Sony Six, which broadcasts the NBA action, has seen a 70 per cent increase in its viewership this season, claims the channel. When asked about the reasons behind the same, the channel’s business head Prasana Krishnan says, “One, the overall penetration and popularity of the game is increasing in India.  Two, our on-ground marketing initiatives in 16 cities, which propelled this growth. We have been marketing the brand and product intensively.”

NBA India and Multi Screen Media (MSM) had signed a three year television agreement beginning 2012.

NBA India, this year, launched its on ground activity, the NBA JAM in 16 cities. The event which took place from 22 September to 6 December featured a 3 on 3 tournament format, which had more than 3,000 teams participating. The tournament also saw more than 600 colleges participating. The 16 cities included Chennai, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Indore, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai. In Mumbai, celebrity Neetu Chandra was roped along with the Sacramento Kings dance team, who were flown in from the US to entertain fans during the event.

Krishnan says that one of the key learning’s for the channel from this season was that it witnessed a growth in southern markets. “Last year, we visited only Bangalore and Hyderabad. This year, besides these two, we also visited Kochi and Chennai where these markets have improved. So have also interior markets, like Jaipur, Indore, Lucknow, Chandigarh etc.” Krishnan informs.  It was also the core marketing proposition of the channel during the launch this year.

The business head opines that the potential for continued growth in non-cricket sports properties is very high and the challenge ahead for the channel would be to continue the momentum. He feels that the biggest challenge ahead can be transformed into the biggest opportunity which is to make the sport better entrenched and bigger in the country.

Speaking on this success of the new found sport, Group M ESP national director- entertainment sports and live events Vinit Karnik says, “After football, if there is a low hanging fruit, it is basketball. This is because most schools in India have had a basket, if not a proper court.  It is one of the most sampled sports at the school level but since for a long time nothing concrete was organised for players in the country, the game never got its dues. But with NBA and its 3 by 3 format, these schools and colleges will bring the sport back in lime light and the potential is set to grow.”


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