MUMBAI: It’s raining goals this FIFA World Cup. Favourites are being kicked out while the underdogs are rising up the points table. And news channel are now vying to latch on to the football fever by focusing on dedicated FIFA shows and content.
Official FIFA broadcaster, Sony Six, has associated with India’s premier news channel Times Now, to provide excerpts from their two shows: Café Rio and Football Extraaa, but not match content. Times Now utilises this exclusive content consisting of expert analysis for its sports slot between 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
According to Sony Six assistant vice president marketing Murtuza Madraswala the association with the newscaster will benefit them both. He says, "We are happy to associate with Times Now as there is a synergy in our passion for the sport and we cater to a similar profile of target audience. FIFA World Cup is the greatest sporting extravaganza and this partnership only adds to the magic and the fervour of the greatest party in the world!"
Other major news channels too have joined the FIFA bandwagon by bringing in dedicated shows with big names associated as anchors and guests. Some of these channels include ABP News, ABP Ananda, CNN-IBN, IBN7, Headlines Today, NewsX and Al Jazeera.
Headlines Today has come up with Carniball2014: Brazil which is aired between 7 pm to 8 pm every night. It covers performances and off-field developments with pre and post analysis of the games.
The guest line up for Carniball2014, anchored by Shivani Gupta, comprises of former India manager Eric Benny, sports historian and consulting editor from Kolkata Boria Majumdar, former India skipper and current ISL football team owner Sourav Ganguly, I- league winning coach of Bengaluru FC team Ashley Westwood, super model Gabriela Bertante, soccer expert Roy Hay and director of the national football museum in Manchester Kevin Moore.
The ABP group’s main show Duniya Gol Hai is aired at 8:30 am and 10:30 pm. The morning version focuses on match results, golden boot contenders and light features whereas the evening show is primarily a preview based show looking at players to watch out for and the games to expect. The group’s impressive guest lineup has famous Indian midfielder Renedy Singh whose career graph extends 14 long years. Joining him is football commentator Ghaus Mohammad and the show is anchored by GS Vivek along with a news anchor and two correspondents who are covering FIFA from Brasil.
The ABP group, through ABP Ananda, has also focused on the regional Bengali market where a large football fan base exists. MCCS marketing manager Vikas Singh says, “Through ABP Ananda we have a battery of experts and a round the clock coverage catering extensively to the high fan base market like Bengal. For us, FIFA World Cup is not a sports event but a news event.”
Network18’s CNN-IBN and IBN7 are not far behind. A Beautiful Game airs on CNN-IBN while Mission Brazil airs on IBN7. The expert lineup includes renowned former Moroccan footballer and coach Karim Bencherifa, football analyst and commentator Novy Kapadia and former captain and coach of the Indian football team Shabbir Ali.
Commenting on the network’s special programming, IBN18 Network editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai said, “Football has a massive fan following in India and our extensive programming will be an absolute treat for the football enthusiasts of the nation. The programming will focus on providing extensive coverage of the tournament including unmatched analysis of the strategies adopted by various teams and a scrutiny of the players’ performances.”
Tapping into the FIFA fever, Al Jazeera English has introduced Football Rebels, a show presented and narrated by former Manchester United star Eric Cantona. It is a five part documentary that sheds light on some unusual stories of football heroes.
Meanwhile, News X has a special show-War of the World aired from Monday to Friday at 8:30 am and 6:30 pm and7:30 pm on Saturday and Sundays. Its morning show features guests like former EPL footballer with Liverpool Mark Seagraves, football journalist Anurag Jacob and News X consulting editor Ayaz Memon. War of the World is anchored by sports anchor Anil Senghera.
India News has launched Dan Dana Dan which is broadcast daily at 7:30 am and 6:30 pm. Dan Dana Dan is anchored by Rajeev Mishra along with a guest line up of ex FIFA referee Melvyn Da Souza, former Mohan Bagan coach Santosh Kayshap and former India players Mahesh Gawli and Shamsi Raza.
To make the shows more engaging and interactive in nature, a few of the news channels have realised that it is extremely important to engage with netizens and make them active viewers rather than just passive audiences. Headlines Today has two contests - a Carniball Weekly Contest and Trivia of the Day. Participants stand a chance to win Adidas FIFA merchandise and a Maruti Suzuki Swift Car. On twitter the channel has been engaging with the twitterati by creating the hashtag #Carniball2014. These tweets are displayed on air during the show.
For those who think that news channels only show political news seem to forget that FIFA is not just a sport; it’s a news maker and audience capturer all by itself!