Sony Sports Network India has some ambitious plans to enhance the reach of its rich portfolio of content. The plans for the upcoming season include expansion of Pro Volleyball League from two to five cities, add more languages to the WWE live broadcast and programming and ensure better traction for NBA and football properties.
Sony’s Chief Revenue Officer and Distribution & Sports Business Head Rajesh Kaul during the Press meet to kick start the build-up for UEFA Champions League finals, also shared the sports broadcast network’s bigger plans around its key sports content. WWE and Pro Volleyball feature prominently in Sony Sports business strategy.
The Pro Volleyball league in Season 2 will be expanded to five cities from the mere two in the inaugural year. “Volleyball league in the first season witnessed a phenomenal success, although it was organised in a very short period of time in only a couple of cities in South India. This year, the plan is to take it to five different cities. It was a testing ground for us. The idea is to make it far better this year and get couple of more teams as well,” Kaul told media persons.
The Pro Volleyball, as reported by InsideSport.co earlier, will also have a total of eight teams this year – two more than the inaugural edition.
WWE has been one of Sony Sports’ key drivers. After successful experiment with the Hindi programming in wrestling entertainment broadcast, Sony has also included other regional languages to the WWE commentary. After the success of Telugu and Tamil broadcast of the WWE, there may soon be other additions. “The shared number of hours and the consistent reach it gets week after week has ensured that WWE remains on top of the pile. We have always tried to experiment with different things. The whole idea is to reach to more number of masses. We don’t want language to be a barrier for a person to not to watch the sport. We did WWE in Hindi last year and we saw a huge traction there. We saw an incremental viewership. That basically motivated us to go one step ahead and try it out in at least South Indian languages like Telugu and Tamil. We just started last month. Hopefully, we will add more audience and bigger sampling,” exchange4media has reported Kaul as saying.
Sony is also expecting better reach for UEFA Champions League finals this year on two counts – the newer audience base added by the phenomenal success of the FIFA World Cup finals last year and a number of games scheduled for prime time broadcast. “This year was simple because, last year, the kind of success that FIFA World Cup saw, it got newer audiences. The way we marketed it, that was bound to happen. This time, we made a very special effort to have 12 (UEFA) games telecast at primetime in India. Earlier, games used to happen at 12:30 (am). This time, we ensured that we get a better sample,” adds Kaul.
The Hindi commentary experiment has also been fruitful for NBA. With two NBA teams scheduled to visit India this year, there is more optimism in the air. “We have been trying Hindi with NBA as well. That has also given us good traction. There will be lot of buzz and marketing plan when these two teams come to India pre-season. That would be a good start for the next season,” says Kaul.
While there have been numerous positives on Sports broadcast and sports content front, the broadcasters across genres are still battling with the impact of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India new tariff order. Kaul how dismisses the talk of any impact on Sony Sports cluster revenue as pre-mature. “That’s because of the fact that it is just two months old and we don’t have complete visibility in terms of the report. You have seen the various complaints made by various stakeholders that broadcasters are not getting a complete visibility of what’s happening. Once we get that, we will be in a position to know what’s happening. As of now, going purely by the numbers we are getting, I don’t see any impact,” he says.