Viewership of non-cricketing sports sees a major uptake for Sony Pictures Sports Network

Ayushi Kar Mumbai | Updated on June 04, 2021

Sports broadcasting is expected to flourish in the coming months

Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN)’s strategy to focus on broadcasting non-cricketing live sporting events is beginning to pay off.

Rajesh Kaul, Chief Revenue Officer, Distribution and Head – Sports Business, SPSN India, said that live coverage of major sports events including Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), an American mixed martial arts, and WWE saw a big uptake in viewership during the lockdown. Kaul also suggested that there has also been a significant increase in interest for cricket sports events that don't feature India.

In data shared exclusively with Business Line, SPSN disclosed that major live sports events experienced higher time spent as audiences were still at home during lockdown. Major non Indian cricket events such as the Big Bash League, an Australian professional franchise of the T20 league grew by 60 per cent in viewership. Abhu Dhabi’s T10 League saw a 45 per cent increase in viewership.

UEFA champions league, a marquee event for football fans also saw major traction post resumption after the Covid lockdowns with the final match between Bayern Munich & PSG, achieving the highest ever rating on TV for a UEFA league match.

“So while you can’t compare the viewership one gets with India cricket, in the last couple of years, viewership for other major sporting events has seen a major bump. Especially non India cricket. The Indian audiences want to watch these major sports events where they will pick their favourite team and that will become their country to support for that event,” Kaul said.

Kaul also believes that the coming months also look promising for sports broadcasting with Tokyo Olympics starting from next month onwards “The next month for SPSN is back to back to back blockbuster, and we are very excited. Viewership and revenue numbers are going to go up,” he said.

As part of its strategy to cater to regional audiences, SPSN will also be telecasting UEFA Euro in six languages across India in English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Major football event Copa América 2021 will also be telecast in five languages, English, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. UEFA EURO 2020 and Copa América 2021 will also be telecast on SPSN’s new regional language sports channel, SONY TEN 4, which will be available in Tamil and Telugu languages across the southern region of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Speaking about the push for regional telecasting of major football events and especially an emphasis on sports telecasting in the south, Kaul said “In the South, the consumption of content in regional languages is close to 80 per cent which was a major motivation for SONY TEN 4.” According to the data shared by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), local language feeds during the live matches of FIFA World Cup 2018 (Hindi+ Malayalam+Bengali+Tamil+Telugu) were watched by 70.7 million viewers. 9.7 million viewers in Kerala sampled Malayalam commentary and 10.7 million viewers in West Bengal sampled Bengali commentary. Kaul also added that traction for marquee football properties such as FIFA is very high across the country even in non traditional football audiences.

Published on June 03, 2021

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