The FIFA under-17 World Cup, the biggest football event in Indian sports history, got off to a grand start on Friday amidst great media attention and an unprecedented Government support. Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium had packed galleries as the debutant hosts took on the USA to set the ball rolling for the 22-day mega football carnival. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in attendance.
The newspapers next morning dedicate more space and give more prominence to the Under-17 Fifa World Cup, with cricket confined to secondary pages on a day when Virat Kohli’s Blue Brigade will hit the turf to start the three-match T-20 series against visiting Australians.
For once football, even at a junior level, appeared bigger than cricket. But, that doesn’t hold true for the official FIFA Under-17 World Cup Finals broadcaster for the Indian sub-continent –Sony Pictures Network India.
Sony, which had paid $ 40 million for the FIFA media rights cycle up to 2014, has committed US$ 60 million to FIFA for the Indian sub-continent media rights during the2015-2018 period. FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia next year will be THE REAL opportunity to monetize these rights. However, the Under-17 Finals coming to India could have been one important window to generate considerable returns on this $60 million commitment.
The broadcaster so far has not been able to make precious little from the World Cup on-air inventory. Hero MotoCorp, Life Insurance Corporation and the Indian Super League (IMG) are the only worthwhile on-air sponsors in India.
The broadcaster has an approximate 900 seconds per match inventory for the 56 games. But there are no major conversions. The broadcaster is not much worried either. “This (the Under-17 World Cup) is not a big revenue driver for us,” says Rohit Gupta, President, Network Sales and International Business, Sony Pictures Network.
“We have got Hero MotoCorp and Life Insurance Corporation as sponsors. There also a couple of others. You cannot just compare any other sport with cricket in India. This is not even the main FIFA World Cup. This just a junior World Cup. If there is some hype, it’s only because it is happening in India. It is not a big property from an advertiser perspective,” Gupta told insidesport.co.
The Local Organising Committee has got the likes of Bank of Baroda, BYJU’s, Coal India Limited, Dalmia Cement India, Hero MotoCorp and National Thermal Power Corporation as the national “on-groud” sponsors. The national partners have reportedly paid between INR 8 crore and INR 13 crore to bag the sponsorships. Surprisingly, only Hero MotoCorp from this list has shown an interest for on-air promotions.
Also Read: ON GROUND PARTNERS FOR U-17 WORLD CUP
Sony has also not been able to convert any of the FIFA’s seven global partners Coca-Cola Co, Beijing-based Wanda Group a Adidas AG, Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd, Qatar Airways Ltd, Visa Inc., and Russian energy firm Gazprom PJSC. Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Visa and Adidas do have major business interests in India. Albeit, through their Indian entities.
Sony’s FIFA Under-17 simulcast of English, Hindi and Bangla feeds have a pan-India reach. The matches are broadcast live with English feed on SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 2 HD, SONY ESPN and SONY ESPN HD channels. For Hindi and Bengali language feeds are simulcast on SONY TEN 3 and SONY TEN 3 HD channels.