Will Ronaldo-Messi heat give Sony Kix wings of fire?

MUMBAI: Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) newest sports channel Sony Kix has been making many a headlines. The three months old mushrooming channel has acquired three ginormous properties from the world of football namely La Liga, SerieA and FA Cup.

What's more, its sister channel Sony Six already had international football rights of both FIFA and UEFA international matches, which will now be aired by Sony Kix. This in turn means that the channel will have quality football throughout the year be it domestic or international leagues - an offering that no other channel has in the Indian subcontinent. 

El Classico remains one of the most watched battle in the history as Real Madrid is considered the representative of Spanish nationalism while Barcelona is viewed as representing Catalan nationalism. Besides that the battle also features Ballon d’or winner Christiano Ronaldo as well as Lionel Messi, who is often argued as the best player to ever play the game. However, what needs to be closely watched is if the battle between the two maestros gives Sony Kix the much needed wings to fly. 

Football is a continuous game where there is absolutely no room to fit in advertisements while the match is on. Hence in India where subscription revenue is still in its nascent stage, football finds it difficult to emerge as a profitable asset for the broadcaster. 

Nevertheless the game is widely watched in the country and as per FICCI report, it was slotted second in terms of most viewed sporting event with annual viewership of 215 million GVTs in 2014. Going by these statistics, football acquisitions will certainly help the channel to enhance its presence. 

Speaking exclusively to Sony Six and Kix business head Prasanna Krishnan says, “We had international action with us but what lacked was quality club football. With these new acquisitions, we will certainly have quality football actions every week, which undoubtedly makes us the footballing destination of India.”

Post the acquisitions, Krishnan’s main focus now is proper execution, offering consumers an exquisite viewing experience. Throwing light on the primary marketing plan that has been chalked out for the same, he says, “We will curate various special programming to keep the buzz going and keep viewers in the loop. In the initial stages of marketing, we will put efforts to make people aware about the acquisitions and gradually we might venture into various on ground marketing initiatives.”

A media planning expert asserts, “All the three properties that they have acquired have the potential to garner huge viewership and if smartly planned, they can generate some ad revenue, which obviously won’t be as much as Cricket or Kabaddi. But sports all over the world is run by subscription revenue and I feel India is also taking that route. There can be no bigger brand ambassador for a sporting venture than Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi so I feel it’s the best way for Sony Kix to kick off.”

While the channel is available across all DTH platforms, its presence is limited to a very few cable operators and hence availability remains a key question.

Commenting on the opportunity to see of Sony Kix, Chrome Data Analytics and Media founder and CEO Pankaj Krishna says, “The new entrant started off with a relatively low OTS of 11 per cent in Week-16 and is still struggling, according to Chrome DM data. Their current availability is 17 per cent across the 101 million homes that Chrome DM monitors, which translates to 17 million homes, vis-?-vis the leader, Ten Sports, reaching 62 million homes. With Sony’s former sports channel, Sony Six, being at 54 per cent OTS in Week 30 (as per Chrome Track 2.0), Sony Kix is yet to score higher and catch up!”

One hopes all the football action will give the channel the perfect ratings kick-start.

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