Neo's game plan sans cricket

Neo's game plan sans cricket

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MUMBAI: With India and Bangladesh cricket rights out of its kitty, Neo Sports Broadcast, the owner and operator of Neo Sports and Neo Cricket, is betting big on three months of non-stop sporting action spread across football, tennis and hockey.

Neo Sports, the all sports channel from the network, has lined up Uefa Euro 2012, the second biggest football event after Fifa World Cup, and French Open regarded as one of the largest events in tennis as part of its aggressive summer line-up.

The Uefa Euro 2012 will be held from 8 June to 1 July while the French Open will kick-off on 27 May running through to 10 June.

The broadcaster has further beefed up its line-up with the addition of Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, which will see the Indian team locking horns with arch rivals Pakistan.

The tournament, which began 24 May with play-offs on 3 June, will also feature Argentina, England, New Zealand, South Korea and the host country Malaysia. The India-Pakistan match will held be held on 31 May.

"The Sultan Azlan Shah acquisition along with French Open and Uefa Euro 2012 further fortifies the summer line up on the Neo Network," Neo Sports Broadcast COO Prasanna Krishnan said.

But in a single sport country like India will non-cricket sports help Neo to pull through?

Maxus and Motivator South Asia MD Ajit Varghese says sports like football and tennis are fast gaining traction and can attract sponsors on a standalone basis since there is a loyal fan base comprising of young and mid-age who will watch these events irrespective of timings.

The sportscaster has launched ?Ultimate Summer of Sports? marketing campaign which began with The Players Championship golf tournament that was held from 10-13 May. Neo has allocated Rs 15 million towards marketing the properties, which includes television promos on news and other sports channels besides print ads.

The fact that there is no cricket action involving Indian cricket team at least till August has only bolstered the sportscasters cause with the Indian Premier League also concluding on 27 May.

Even the timings of both French Open and Uefa Euro are suitable for the Indian market. French Open matches will begin in afternoon going on till late night, while Uefa Euro matches will begin in primetime going on till mid night.

Aside from marketing, the channel has high revenue expectations from both French Open as well as Uefa Euro.

According to industry sources, the broadcaster is targeting Rs 45 million ad revenue from French Open. It has roped in Reliance 3G, Coca Cola, Renault, Kerala Tourism and Vinni Pharmaceuticals as broadcast sponsors.

The official sponsors will consume 60-70 per cent of the inventory while spot buyers like Hero MotoCorp and Hyundai will utilise the rest. The channel is targeting ad rates of Rs 12,000-15,000 per 10 second spot.

The broadcaster has also tied-up with YouTube for live streaming of the tournament.

However, it is Uefa Euro 2012 on which Neo has pinned its hopes to deliver big monies as it has invested $11 million to acquire the rights.

The incumbent rights holder ESPN Star Sports had bid $4 million for the rights but lost in face of aggressive bidding by Neo which had Ten Sports as the runner-up with a bid of $6 million.

Neo is yet to sign up sponsors for Uefa Euro 2012 however a top company official asserted that the negotiations with advertisers are happening. "The response from the market has been extremely positive," the executive said, while declining to comment on the financials.

The final of Euro 2008 between Spain and Germany which aired on ESPN got a rating of 2.09, according to Tam data (c&s15+ males) for six metros.

Nimbus Sport, the company that acquires rights for Neo Sports and Neo Cricket, has lost the India and Bangladesh cricket rights within a span of six months. While the BCCI terminated its deal with Nimbus over delay in payment of broadcast license fee, the sports marketing agency?s deal with Bangladesh Cricket Board expired 30 April.

The broadcaster had recently reworked its deal with MSM Discovery for the distribution of television channels Neo Sports and Neo Cricket under the aegis of TheOneAlliance bouquet.

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