Television

We add more credibility & variety to our sports line-up every year: Rajesh Kaul

Sony Sports Network is going to air 1800+ hours of live cricket action in 2022-23.

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Mumbai: India loves cricket with 90 per cent of most watched sports broadcasts in the country being live cricket. Sony Sports, a leading sports broadcaster, is going to bring 1800+ hours of live cricket on television screens starting from June till February 2023.

Sony Sports has recently launched its cricket campaign for the year led by Indian cricketer Smriti Mandhana and actor Pankaj Tripathi. The ‘Non-stop cricket on Sony Sports Network’ kickstarts with the broadcast of the India tour of Ireland and England.  

In the previous year, the sports broadcaster set new viewership records with its back-to-back programming of marquee sporting events including Olympics Games Tokyo 2020, UEFA EURO 2020, and Copa America.

Sony Sports, once again, hopes to ride the momentum of its back-to-back cricket calendar comprising India and non-India cricket, women’s cricket and T20i tournaments to garner viewership and attract advertiser attention.

Leading the sports and distribution verticals for Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) India, Rajesh Kaul is responsible for invigorating the sports business at SPN and the acquisition of marquee sports properties for the network.

He also drives international sales for the network in collaboration with the digital team to expand SPN’s brand presence and lead across the world. Under his leadership, the SPN distribution has been expanding rapidly.

Kaul joined the SPN in 2008. He began his career with ICI Paints and thereon moved on to Modi Entertainment Network. He joined ESPN Star Sports in 1997 and sharpened his leadership skills at the organisation for over 11 years. Rajesh played a vital role in creating the success story of ESPN Star Sports, heading their distribution and marketing nationally, and was credited with the successful launch of Star Cricket.

In conversation with Indiantelevision.com, Sony Pictures Networks India chief revenue officer, distribution and head – sports business Rajesh Kaul speaks about Sony Sports strong sports programming line-up and the business and marketing strategy to maximise eyeballs and revenues.  

On the diverse line-up of live cricket for the year 2022

With each passing year we add more credibility and variety to our sports line up and this year the Sony Sports Network will be home to 1800+ hours of cricket. In addition to the marquee India tour of England, which has one historic Test match pending, the team also plays 3 T20i’s and 3 ODI’s in England. This will take place between India playing in Ireland and India playing in Zimbabwe. In addition to this action-packed calendar of Indian men’s cricket, we also have the women’s team touring England and an enviable bilateral cricket calendar featuring England vs New Zealand, Australia vs South Africa, Sri Lanka vs Australia, England vs South Africa, Australia vs England and more along with popular T20i tournaments like the Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League and Women’s Big Bash League. 

On the amplification strategy of the sports network

Love for cricket knows no boundaries and this is what we have showcased through this campaign. To that end, we have crafted this ‘Non – Stop Cricket’ campaign featuring a very differentiated star Pankaj Tripathi, India’s most loved actor and Smriti Mandhana, Indian women team’s opening batter. Our sports network has been known for creating thought provoking and meaningful campaigns such as ‘Meri Doosri Country’, ‘Hum Honge Kamyab’, ‘Sona Mana Hai’ amongst others and this campaign, conceptualised through the creative partnership of our inhouse team and Scarecrow M&C Saatchi Advertising Agency, aims to break the clutter by bringing a leading woman cricketer to promote men’s and women’s cricket.

On beating the viewership records set in 2021

2021 was a landmark year for Sony Sports Network. In this milestone year, we hosted marquee sporting events such as the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020, UEFA EURO 2020, and Copa America, which helped us attract the highest ever ratings. Viewership impressions on TV for UEFA EURO 2020 were more than double of the previous edition, whereas ratings for Copa America & Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 grew by 59 per cent and 23 per cent respectively (BARC, All India U+R, All Audience, LIVE match Impressions on TV). 

In 2022, we ride on an action-packed cricket calendar with 1800+ hours of cricketing action on our network. Cricket has always been a bestseller in our country and with the new era of Rohit Sharma and Ben Stokes’ captaincy in the upcoming India tour of England, there is a lot to look forward to on Sony Sports Network. Along with cricket, we also have football properties like UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Nations League, Bundesliga and much more. In addition to these we also have WWE and UFC action through the year, Grand Slam tennis action with the recently concluded Roland Garros, as well as domestic leagues like Prime Volleyball League and the upcoming Ultimate Kho Kho tournament.

On its association with advertisers

Cricket has always been a major crowd puller and advertisers have always shown interest in various bilateral series, T20 leagues and international tournaments. Our campaign for our cricket calendar which includes India and non-India cricket, women’s cricket and T20i tournaments has attracted the interest of advertisers. Apart from that, team India’s remaining Test against England is seen as an attractive proposition due to its high value. This will be followed by limited overs’ T20i and ODI series which will mark the beginning of a new era of Rohit Sharma and Ben Stokes’ captaincy. Taking into consideration the importance of the series, we have already received a positive response from the advertisers.

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