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Ten Sports undisputed leader in sports TV viewership courtesy WWE

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MUMBAI: Ten Sports has been dominating sports television ratings week after week with the only exception being when team India hits the lush green cricket field and another broadcaster is relaying it. That’s the only time when Ten Sports loses the top berth. 

So what helps the channel garner such high ratings? In three powerful words, it’s the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

As per S-group (an analytical arm of TAM media research) analysis, Ten Sports is the leader in the sports genre with average weekly viewership of 28 GRPs in the last four weeks. The closest competitor this week was Sony Six, which garnered half the viewership.

Ten Sports global CEO Rajesh Sethi and his programming team are the main reason behind that. Repetitiveness is the biggest enemy of quality content, it kills the flair and develops a scenario of same programme, different day. However, the smart programming strategy of Sethi and team has successfully managed to avoid that for over a decade now.

Close to 85 per cent of Ten Sports’ viewership comes from the telecast of WWE matches alone with a duration dedication of only 25 per cent.

Sethi asserts, “Ten Sports Network has been the home of World Wrestling Entertainment in India since 2002. Over this period, WWE broadcast has evolved significantly with an increased focus to deliver quality to viewers. The broadcast delay from USA to India has completely been reduced. Ten Sports is now offering WWE RAW live in India. The initial inhibitions that the time difference will affect viewership numbers has been dispelled with very good ratings for the Live airing, which airs Tuesday mornings at 5.30 am India Time.”

Ten Sports has sealed a five-year deal with WWE, which makes the fight sport their exclusive asset till 2019. Both Ten Sports and WWE came together in recent times to launch numerous on-ground initiatives to popularize the sport in India.

“The new agreement between WWE and Ten Sports has seen a host of new initiatives taken by the broadcaster. New shows have been introduced with Ten Sports bringing popular show Main Event to India from January of this year. NXT, which brings the best action from upcoming WWE Superstars and Total Divas, a WWE reality show have been getting a major push from a marketing standpoint and not only existing viewers are taking to this programme but these shows are helping cater to new audiences,” adds Sethi.

He further informs, “RAW and Smackdown, the established marquee shows of WWE continues to garner great ratings. With prime time airings getting ratings of almost 1 TVR, we can safely say that WWE has established itself as a leader in sports entertainment. These numbers are second only to LIVE India Cricket and WWE is closing this gap as well. Ten Sports reaches around 150 million households across the Indian sub-continent and garnering such ratings in a very diverse and unique market like India for an American product like the WWE speaks volumes to what Ten Sports has done over time to making this product acceptable at first to an Indian to now becoming a part of the viewer’s habit.”

Ten Sports has started offering these flagship shows in shorter versions, including a customized one hour RAW programme called RAW Sunday Dhamaal.

RAW Sunday Dhamaal is positioned as a weekend premier show with a local flavour tailor-made for the Indian audience. There has been a new studio designed solely for the show with popular faces anchoring the show. Bollywood is a religion in India and Raw Sunday Dhamaal has consistently been using Bollywood and top celebrities to engage fans and add a new flavour to the shows. This marriage between WWE and Bollywood has seen celebrities including Akshay Kumar, Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor in the RAW Sunday Dhamaal studios. WWE Superstar and 2015 Money In The Bank winner, Sheamus will also make an appearance on RAW Sunday Dhamaal soon.

“WWE in other languages and a push on digital platforms is also priority for Ten Sports. Smackdown has launched in Hindi and this weekend airing is being well accepted by new viewers. With India being such a diverse market, Ten Sports is targeting a specific territory by territory approach to launching shows in different languages. Ten Sports and Zee Group, whose channels have a presence across 650 million households across the world will use group regional channels and will in due course, broadcast more WWE shows across multiple languages creating an increased affinity towards WWE. This approach will take WWE to the hinterlands wooing a new, non-traditional viewer base. On the digital front, VOD offerings on tensports.com along with leveraging social media from increased interaction and engagement with fans are the priority areas,” he informs.

Fans selected through contests have been rewarded with the opportunity to not only interact with WWE superstars and divas but travel to watch WWE LIVE events across the globe.

Further, as per the analysis carried out below, the viewership coming from WWE matches has been on an increasing trend for the past four years. From 5.7 GRPs in 2012, WWE obtains 9.2 GRPs per week in 2015. This analysis has been done for every 1000 minutes of WWE telecast so as to normalize the duration factor.

The ad rate of a 10-second slot during normal WWE programming fluctuate between Rs 60,000 - 80,000 while for a Wrestlemania or Summerslam sometimes it touches Rs 1 lakh mark too informs a source closely dealing with WWE’s media planning.

Baseline director & co-founder R Ramakrishnan feels that WWE is here to grow. “WWE is an evolving property, not only television viewership but licensing and merchandising will also grow. Live events will play a vital role in the growth. We saw Big Shaw and John Cena travelling to India and both Ten Sports and WWE will endeavor in launching several new initiatives. Credit must be given to Ten Sports for smartly handling the property over the years,” he opines.

WWE is one of the very few American sports, which is widely spoken about in India. Kids start with WWE card games and then gradually with age change to Playstation and X-box. After United States and United Kingdom, India is the largest market for WWE. Khali’s induction in the sport has already raised the bar and got more people talking about the sport India.

Overall World Wrestling Entertainment has a lot of room for growth and Ten Sports will certainly leave no stones unturned to generate as much revenue as they can from the sport.

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