Collaboration between Sony Sports Network and UEFA Euro holds immense significance for the Indian market: Rajesh Kaul

Collaboration between Sony Sports Network and UEFA Euro holds immense significance for the Indian market: Rajesh Kaul

The growing popularity of European football in India is undeniable.

Rajesh Kaul

Mumbai: Sony Sports Network has geared up to elevate the sports broadcasting experience in India with its role as the official broadcaster partner for the ongoing UEFA European Championship (Euros). For Sony Sports Network, this partnership represents more than just airing matches—it's about delivering premium football content that resonates deeply with Indian audiences.

The network's strategy includes enhancing the viewing experience with cutting-edge features such as high-definition broadcasts, multilingual commentary options, and interactive elements, ensuring every fan can enjoy the games to the fullest.

Beyond technical enhancements, Sony Sports Network is focused on fostering a vibrant community of football enthusiasts in India. By engaging directly with fans and creating compelling content around the Euros, the network aims to deepen connections and cultivate long-lasting viewer loyalty.

The growing popularity of European football in India is undeniable, with an increasing fan base eagerly following international tournaments like the Euros. This trend reflects a broader shift in sports preferences among Indian audiences, presenting Sony Sports Network with opportunities to expand its influence in the sports broadcasting landscape. caught with SPNI’s Chief Revenue Officer - Distribution & International Business and Head - Sports Business Rajesh Kaul.

Edited excerpts

On the significance of Sony Sports Network being the official broadcasting partner for the Euros in India

The collaboration between Sony Sports Network and UEFA Euro holds immense significance for the Indian market, as Indian audiences now have access to top-tier European club football.  Once we included regional language commentary in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Bengali it greatly enhanced viewership. The viewership impressions for UEFA EURO 2020 were more than triple those of the previous edition, reflecting the growing interest in international football in India.

Moreover, the involvement of prestigious brands such as State Bank of India, Honda Motorcycles, Pepsi, and Yamaha among others, in addition to the ones we are in the process of onboarding, further amplifies the event's appeal and commercial viability in the Indian market.

Additionally, Sony Sports Network's effective marketing strategies, like the appointment of Bollywood star Kartik Aaryan as the brand ambassador for football, aim to engage a younger, more affluent audience, expanding the sport's reach beyond traditional markets like Northeast India, Goa, Kerala, and West Bengal. The integration of digital platforms like SonyLIV ensures that matches are accessible both on television and online, catering to the evolving consumption habits of modern viewers who prefer streaming content. Overall, the collaboration between Sony Sports Network and UEFA underscores the network's commitment to enhancing the football viewing experience in India and fostering the sport's growth by making it more accessible and engaging for a diverse audience.

On Sony Sports Network enhancing the viewing experience through high-definition broadcasts, multilingual commentary, and interactive features.

Sony Sports Network is dedicated to enhancing the viewing experience for football fans through a combination of high-definition broadcasts, multilingual commentary, interactive features, and expert analysis. By leveraging state-of-the-art technology, Sony Sports Network ensures that all matches are broadcast in high-definition, providing viewers with a more immersive and engaging experience that captures every detail of the action on the pitch.

In addition to high-definition broadcasts, Sony Sports Network has significantly expanded its multilingual commentary offerings. Recognizing the diverse linguistic landscape of India, the network provides commentary in multiple regional languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali. This approach not only makes the content accessible to a broader audience but also enhances viewer connection and engagement by delivering the game in their preferred language.

To further bring fans closer to UEFA Euro 2024, Sony Sports Network has assembled a robust group of expert panellists. This distinguished lineup includes former France captain Patrice Evra, former India captains Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung Bhutia, former India forward Robin Singh, India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and former international stars David James, Don Hutchison, Terry Phelan, Ashley Westwood, and Mark Seagraves. The in-depth analysis provided by these experts on the Football Extraaa show during the tournament will significantly bolster the viewing experience, offering fans valuable insights and perspectives.

On the inspiration of "Universe Ka Sabse Bada Football Festival of 2024" campaign

The "Universe Ka Sabse Bada Football Festival of 2024" campaign was inspired by our desire to celebrate the grand scale and universal appeal of UEFA Euro 2024 in a way that resonates deeply with Indian football fans. Football is growing rapidly in India, and we wanted to create a campaign that captures the excitement, passion, and festivity associated with this major tournament. Our goal was to not only highlight the tournament's importance but also to engage a wider audience and bring the vibrant football community in India together in anticipation of the event.

Kartik Aaryan was a natural choice as the brand ambassador for this campaign. His immense popularity, charismatic personality, and genuine love for sports make him an ideal figure to connect with our target audience. Kartik's appeal spans across different age groups and regions, making him the perfect spokesperson to convey the excitement of UEFA Euro 2024.

In the campaign, Kartik dons the avatar of an alien to symbolize the universal appeal and excitement surrounding the event, emphasizing that UEFA Euro 2024 is not just a football tournament but a global festival that transcends boundaries. His involvement adds a touch of entertainment and relatability, ensuring the campaign resonates with fans across the country.

On sharing more details about the marketing strategy behind this campaign

"Universe Ka Sabse Bada Football Festival of 2024" campaign aimed to maximize engagement, reach, and excitement for UEFA Euro 2024 among Indian football fans. Our strategy focused on tapping into various media channels, to create a ubiquitous presence, ensuring that the campaign reaches fans wherever they are. Recognizing India's linguistic diversity, we are providing content in multiple regional languages, including advertisements, commentary, and interactive content in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali, to resonate with a broader audience and make them feel included in the excitement.

Kartik Aaryan's involvement as the brand ambassador is a crucial component of our strategy. His popularity and wide appeal make him an effective bridge to connect with our target demographic. Kartik posted the campaign look and video on his official X and Instagram accounts, which garnered over 127K engagements, highlighting the campaign's wide reach and his influential presence. His portrayal of an alien in the campaign symbolizes the universal allure of UEFA Euro 2024, adding a fun and relatable element to the promotion. We have created a variety of engaging content, including new-look graphics, teaser videos, and campaign film, all designed to build anticipation and encourage fan participation.

We are also partnering with famous sports personalities to amplify the campaign's reach, and create maximum buzz and engagement for UEFA Euro 2024, making it a grand celebration of football that resonates with fans across India.

On integration of original content and programming around UEFA EURO 2024 to keep the audience engaged beyond the live matches

With football being one of the most followed sports globally and rapidly growing in India, we're committed to providing an immersive experience that goes beyond just the live matches. For UEFA EURO 2024, we're ramping up our efforts to keep fans engaged beyond the live matches. We understand that football is not just about the games; it's about the analysis, and discussions surrounding them.

The addition of football legend Patrice Evra to our esteemed panel for UEFA EURO 2024 will enrich the viewing experience for our audience. Alongside former India captains Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung Bhutia, former India forward Robin Singh, India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and former international stars David James, Don Hutchison, Terry Phelan, Ashley Westwood and Mark Seagraves will provide in-depth analysis and insights, keeping fans engaged before, during, and after the matches.

On the key areas of growth SPNI is focusing on within sports broadcasting, particularly in relation to football

At Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), we are dedicated to enhance the sports broadcasting experience, particularly in football. Recently, we renewed our UEFA Club competition rights for the next four years, which includes broadcasting rights of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Europa Conference League. Additionally, we have the rights of the 2028 edition of the UEFA European Championship (EURO 2028), as well as the Bundesliga, the Russian Premier League (RSL), and the UEFA Nations League.

Our commitment to football broadcasting goes beyond securing rights. We are the pioneers in providing language feeds for football, ensuring that fans can enjoy the game in their preferred languages. "Football Extra" on Sony Sports Network has set a benchmark in football programming with its in-depth analysis and engaging content.

We are continuously exploring new ways to enhance the viewing experience. Our goal is to bring fans closer to the action and make football more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

On your personal excitement about UEFA EURO 2024 and Sony Sports Network’s role in bringing it to viewers

Football happens to be one of the most followed sports in the world and is also growing by leaps and bounds in India. For instance, how the EURO 2020 broadcast on Sony Sports Network captivated audiences across India with 61 million viewers tuning in to witness the thrilling matches. This demonstrates the immense affinity Indian audiences have for international football competitions. We understand the significance of this event for football enthusiasts in India and are committed to delivering an unmatched viewing experience.

We aim to provide viewers with an unforgettable experience to witness some of the world's finest footballing talents competing on the grandest stage. It's not just about the matches; it's about the shared passion and joy that football brings to millions.

On the biggest challenges in sports broadcasting over the next few years

As a sports broadcaster, we haven’t faced any challenges in the industry, especially with major events like UEFA EURO 2024, but one particular challenge that stands out, particularly in India is cricket's dominant viewership. Cricket holds a special place in the hearts of Indian sports fans, and its overwhelming popularity can sometimes overshadow other sports events.

However, at Sony Sports, we view this challenge as an opportunity to diversify and expand our offerings. We understand the importance of providing a multisport channel that caters to the diverse interests of Indian sports enthusiasts. By offering a wide variety of sports, including football, tennis, WWE, and more, we aim to appeal to a broader audience and elevate the profile of non-cricket sports in India.

Through strategic partnerships, innovative programming, and engaging content, we are committed to promoting a culture of sports beyond cricket.