SPN’s Neville Bastawalla on ‘massification’ of niche sports and Australian Open broadcast extension

The promotions will begin three months in advance.

MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Networks India’s (SPN) sports segment is highly focusing on niche segments and so Tennis Australia and SPN have extended their broadcast deal by three years at the official Australian Open 2020 media launch. SPN sports business head-marketing and on-air promotions Neville Bastawalla said ‘massification’ is the only way to grow viewership for niche sports while the segment has huge opportunity.

“There is a challenge and as well as opportunity. These are niche sports and the viewership is low. But the opportunity is certain. If you build the right relevance with these selective niche sports, identify and target them and build localisation, you will reach the tipping point and viewership will explode,” he said.

He elaborated that there will be a 360 degree marketing like last year panning across sports network, social media. Last season’s heavy TV promotion primarily helped the network to grow the viewership of the Australian Open by 39 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018. He is also confident that it will grow further next year. He also added that the broadcaster is exploring the option of regional feeds for finales. He also added that they will integrate marketing plans for the league on SonyLIV together with TV as all screens are converging now.

“We are going to synergise more this year with the Australian Open marketing team or how can we drive synergies to grow in India. We are going to work three months in advance,” he noted.

Although cricket has a legacy, broadcasters are now betting on new sports too. Although the marketing spend on cricket still remains the highest, Bastawalla says that the focus on the Australian Open is similar to a non-Indian team cricket or the UEFA Champions League or WWE.

He mentioned that the viewership of UEFA Champions league grew by 50 per cent in 2019 year over year. On the other hand, Serie A league has the highest reach in the country among football leagues. Although India is primarily a cricket-viewing country, there is a huge potential of other sports to grow by building relevance and localisation with the global entertainers of the world.

Post the new tariff order, SPN has also come out with advertisements urging customers to pick its channels. “It’s more about telling consumers why they should subscribe to our channels also. Give them a reason to buy us. We constantly keep talking to our consumers with different propositions about why they should subscribe to SPN sports channels. This has to be a consistent effort - talking about subscription from a marketing perspective. We are very happy with the response we got so far with our campaigns,” he commented.

Starting January, SPN will also commence promotions for another flagship event – the Olympics. This is almost six to seven months in advance of the games.

However, despite the focus on niche genres, the channel has got over 200 days of cricket coming up, as they have rights to New Zealand tour of Australia, Australia tour of South Africa, England tour of South Africa, Big Bash League and T10 League.

Latest Reads
Applause Entertainment partners with Gurinder Chadha and Sunder Aaron

MUMBAI: With a strong focus on building an exciting and ambitious content slate that serves a diverse set of audiences, Applause Entertainment has rapidly emerged as one of the leading studios in India. An Aditya Birla Group venture, the content studio led by media veteran Sameer Nair has announced...

Television Production House Fiction
Sportskeeda to launch an original interview series “Free Hit” with Sourav Ganguly, Kapil Dev, and Yuvraj Singh

Sportskeeda, India’s largest all-sports news website is all set to launch its original interview series “Free Hit”. The first-of-its-kind series FreeHit catches-up with legendary cricketers in their own homes, and listens-in as they narrate their journey of becoming what they are today. 

Television TV Channels Sports
TV9 appoints Raktim Das as COO of Studio9

Beefing up its management team and adding momentum to its pan-network digital expansion plans, TV9 Bharatvarsh announced the appointment of former Zee executive cluster head, innovation studio, and custom content Raktim Das as COO of its property Studio9.

Television TV Channels Regional
Bombay high court suspend 2 FIRs against Arnab Goswami

Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was given an interim relief by Bombay high court on Tuesday as it suspended two FIRs against him for allegedly making provocating and inflammatory statements over Palgarh lynchings and gathering of migrant workers outside Bandra railway station.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Outgoing Mathrubhumi TV CEO Mohan Nair on his decade-long journey

NEW DELHI: It is no mean feat to contribute towards the legacy of a leading media organisation when it ventures into newer turfs, but outgoing Mathrubhumi TV CEO Mohan Nair made it possible with sheer grit and determination, as he led the foray of the legacy print publisher, ruling the Malayalam...

Television TV Channels Regional
ABP Ananda as the emblem of Bengali culture: 15 years & counting

West Bengal’s most illustrious news channel, ABP Ananda, has added yet another chapter to its glorious history, completing 15 years of operations this month. Since inception, the channel has been the quintessence of local, on-ground reporting in Bengal and has carved a special place in the heart of...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Mathrubhumi TV CEO Mohan Nair moves on

NEW DELHI: After a stint of more than nine years at the broadcast section of  media giant Mahrubhumi, Mohan Nair has confirmed his departure from the role of CEO of Mathrubhumi TV and Kappa TV to  It was under Nair’s leadership that Kerala-based media group had ventured into...

Television TV Channels Regional
PTC Punjabi Film Awards - Celebrating Punjabi Cinema in a "World’s First" style

Amid the dark clouds of the Corona virus pandemic tightening their noose over the globe, PTC Network and its creative team are all set to commemorate a decade-long journey of the PTC Punjabi Film Awards. The commemorative event would indeed prove to be a whiff of fresh air for Punjabi cinema fans,...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Zee TV to show fresh episodes of primetime shows from 13 July

MUMBAI: With the lockdown gradually lifting and people across the country stepping out into the new normal, Zee TV is gearing up to resume shoots in line with government directives and bring all-new episodes of its popular shows back into the lives of its loyalists starting 13 July.

Television TV Channels GECs

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required