Television

We want to create a new category, Sportainment: Uday Sodhi

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The last couple of years have been good for sports in India. As more and more leagues are launched, the sports channels have a lot to offer to the viewers. And in a bid to capture viewer?s attention, many of them have launched portals.

One such is, LIV Sports from the Multi Screen Media (MSM) stable, which was launched just before the FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil commenced.  It has been a late entrant when compared to its competitors like Tensports.com and starsports.com, but has been able to make a mark in the digital space.

In September, the portal saw former HeadHonchos?s CEO Uday Sodhi taking charge as MSM executive vice president and head digital business to take the portal to the next level. With LIV Sports acquiring the mobile and internet broadcast rights of the UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifiers for India and the Champions Tennis League, the executive spoke to Indiantelevision.com?s Herman Gomes about the portal?s growth so far and his future plans for the site.

Excerpts?

What is the growth LIV Sports has seen since its launch and in which markets? 

The success has been phenomenal. With LIV Sports we are aiming to create a new category of Sportainment or Sports Entertainment. The objective is to empower the sports fan with deep statistics on video as well as engage with the fence sitters. 

We registered a record number of downloads and live match views between 13 June and 13 July 2014.  It attracted over 20 million page views in July. Viewers spent on an average of 28 minute watching the live streaming of the matches across online, mobile and the tablet LIV Sports application.

Of the total traction observed on LIV Sports, the maximum percentage of unique views came from the six metros (53 per cent) with Mumbai and Delhi in the lead (13 per cent each), followed by Bengaluru (10 per cent). 83 per cent of the total viewers in the country were within the age bracket of 18-34 years. The World Cup also attracted 25 per cent female viewers; engagements like the Predictor, ?Mohit Bana Messi ? Jerseyfy Me? and ?Pehchaan Kaun? helped achieve this number. We also registered phenomenal numbers in terms of social presence. The Blogger outreach programme enabled a reach of over 2.85 million.

Technical problems were witnessed initially? 

Initially, we did face some technical glitches because of the overwhelming number of active users on our site. But we upgraded our technical capabilities and erased out the issues.

Which are the different audiences the portal seeks to target through its sports entertainment content?

In an attempt to redefine the way sporting content is presented and consumed, LIV Sports has blended sports with a right dose of entertainment. LIV Sports viewers gets the best of both worlds, high quality interactive sports content, comprehensive informative data and analytics as well as fun and entertaining content ? keeping every cross section of consumers actively participating with addictive engagements modules.

?My time, my content and my device? is where today?s audience is heading. Consumers want to engage, interact and consume content at their terms, at their convenience and in their method. They want personalised and contextualised experiences with each click. Their attention span is ever-shrinking and secondly, keeping them engaged with the right packaging is thus imperative. And that?s why our focus is on the mobile platform, to create a customised viewing experience and allow them to stay updated with their favourite sports.

It?s been over two months since you took charge. What is on your priority list for the website?

Over the next few months, viewers will be able to catch up with the widest range of sporting content, including football, NBA, UFC, tennis and cricket on LIV Sports. The digital destination offers live and exclusive video content along with a complete coverage of the latest sporting content present, across devices. Our key focus is on mobile platforms to provide both content on live streaming and video on demand for catch-up content. With superior handsets and improved connectivity, we?re witnessing huge growth on mobile and see it as a continuing trend.

What is the revenue model of the same?

We saw significant downloads of the app on both iOS and Android during the FIFA World Cup 2014. Revenue model is subscription and advertising. We worked with partners across categories for FIFA World Cup 2014 and we?re in constant discussion with potential advertisers for upcoming sporting properties.

Do you see e-commerce platforms advertising online on sports websites?

Certainly. E-commerce is a key category and we?ve already worked with brands in this space. LivSports.in offers brands the opportunity to create targeted campaigns for a defined audience.

How do you view the growth of sports platforms in the coming years?

Digital, video, online and mobile is fairly new in sports broadcasting. With the increase in the bandwidth and increase in internet penetration, video consumption overall is going up. With live sports, a publisher/broadcaster needs to have very good infrastructure in place in order to have a large number of users watching the live streaming of the match together, in high quality. We are getting there slowly. 

Video inventory in sports is hard to find, since legally licensed rights are expensive and it requires the marketing bandwidth to reach out to the target user group. Football has the second largest viewership after cricket. Interest in the sport is growing, with investment in local leagues as well. 

In terms of data points, as per the recent Mobile Sports Report released by Adobe, watching sports online or on mobile devices is the primary driver of the continued worldwide growth in digital video consumption. Some of the key findings have been that sports video streams increased 640 per cent, year on year, compared to an overall growth of 440 per cent for all types of content. Secondly, sports events accounted for 37 per cent of all streams, compared to 32 per cent for news programs and 28 per cent for TV shows. And finally, one quarter of all sports digital viewing now happens on mobile devices, a 73 per cent year-over-year increase. And though tablets lead all forms of non-TV devices for video viewing, streams on smartphones and gaming consoles are also growing rapidly.

We need to be where the consumer is i.e., be it mobile, TV, online or a tablet at the same time.

Which are the other sports properties you look at tapping in the future?



 

We are looking at expanding with a mix of sports including NBA, UFC, TNA and more.

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