Sony expects sports to contribute 40% revenue in the next few years
New Delhi: Broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks, which operates sports channels Sony Six and Sony ESPN, on Tuesday said it expects its sports portfolio to contribute 35-40% of its overall revenue in the next few years in a multi-sport viewership environment.
The network also named cricketing great Sachin Tendulkar its brand ambassador with the “Go-Beyond” ad campaign for the entire portfolio of 11 sports channels including both standard definition and high definition. The network did not disclose the terms of the deal with Tendulkar.
“India is a young country and that population will only grow. The future is multi sport and that is something we realised a few years ago and started to invest in sports properties other than cricket,” said N.P. Singh, chief executive, Sony Pictures Networks.
He added that the company invested in bringing UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship, a marquee martial arts championship) to the market and got the exclusive rights for the National Basketball Association league apart from investing in football tournaments like FIFA, La Liga and UEFA.
“We have acquired rights for a couple of tournaments in tennis which gives us several hours of live content. That’s the strategy we have followed in the past and will continue to follow in the future as well to support the future that is emerging,” Singh said.
In September, SPN acquired sports network TEN Sports from Zee Entertainment in an all-cash deal worth $385 million, adding seven sports channels to its portfolio. SPN on Tuesday also rebranded the TEN sports channels to Sony TEN.
“It takes leaders to go beyond at every step of the game because leaders just don’t prepare for the future, they create it. And, it is the leader-mindset that has taken us from a single sports channel in 2012 to 11 dedicated sports channels in a span of 5 years. Currently, we are among the largest sports broadcasters in the Indian subcontinent,” said Singh.
The network has added 2 new HD channels to its existing line-up taking the total to 11.
The network, which was the television rights holder for the Indian Premier League (IPL) for 10 seasons, will continue to invest in cricket. “We have rights to five cricket boards—West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. And this year in particular we have a key India series with West Indies. And then India starts playing Sri Lanka and South Africa later this year,” Singh said.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday reopened the tender process for media rights to the IPL for a five-year period from 2018 to 2022.
Both television and digital media rights of the league will be up for grabs. Sony will make an aggressive bid said Singh.
“In 2008 when we acquired the IPL rights there were no takers. There were no believers. We put our money where our mouth is and then worked really hard over the last ten years to make it a very successful franchise. The last season itself saw a reach of 411 million which is unprecedented, no other property has seen that kind of viewership reach.
We will make an aggressive bid to retain the rights both for television and digital,” he added.
Sony’s interest in sports is understandable. In a year when the advertising business grew only 11.89%, sports sponsorship grew 19.33% in 2016 to touch Rs6,400 crore, highlighting the willingness of advertisers to spend big money on sporting events—in terms of sponsorships, endorsements by cricketers, and advertising during sports events and in their coverage across print, TV and digital media.
The data is part of a report jointly published by GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of GroupM, a media buying agency that is part of WPP Inc., and SportzPower, a sports business news company.
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