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35 advertisers on board for EURO 2016; 95% inventory sold: Prasana Krishnan

Whipping up soccer frenzy, the sports cluster of Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) has introduced a Live wraparound show for the UEFA EURO 2016 – ‘Football Extraaa’. The tournament coverage that started on June 10 is being telecast on Sony Six and Sony ESPN channels as well as SonyLiv.com at prime time slots of 5.30 pm, 8.30 pm and 11.30 pm. Sony Six telecasts the English language feed for the tournament, while Sony ESPN gives viewers the option of watching these matches in Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil or Telugu language feeds.

‘Football Extraaa’ features England and Liverpool football legend Robbie Fowler, Ex-Portugal and Barcelona player Deco, and India’s football team captain Sunil Chhetri, who conduct an in-depth analysis of different aspects of the matches.

The sports cluster of SPN is adding a whole new dimension to the UEFA EURO 2016 by featuring insights from some of the biggest players in club and country football, with Joe Morrison mediating discussions with expert panelists about the tournament. Interviews with football players, features, fan interactions, and Live social media activities also form part of the show.

Speaking on the initiative, Prasana Krishnan, EVP and Business Head, Sports Cluster, Sony Pictures Network, said, “The UEFA EURO 2016 is one of the biggest and most watched international football properties with a global fan following. The extended offering of ‘Football Extraaa’, helmed by some of the most influential names in football, has an engaging format that delivers an unparalleled viewing experience to football fans. The in-depth analyses of the panelists appeals to a broader set of viewers that includes both fans and novices.  It’s been a week since EURO 2016 began and the response for both the tournament and the show has been overwhelmingly positive on our platforms.”

With the recent acquisition of marquee football properties like LaLiga, Serie A, UEFA EURO 2016, Copa America Centenario, 2018 FIFA World Cup and the exclusive broadcast and digital rights for the inaugural season of Premier Futsal, the Sports Cluster of SPN continues to reinforce its position as the ‘Home of Football.’ Adding to all the action and excitement, SPN will be the host broadcaster for FIFA U-17 World Cup, which is being hosted by India for the first time.

In conversation with AdGully, Prasana Krishnan shares more information about the UEFA EURO 2016 and the various initiatives around it, and more. Excerpts:

It’s been a week since the UEFA EURO 2016 began. What kind of viewership are you expecting for the tournament, compared to the previous years?
To be very honest I don’t know because this will be the first big football event which is coming under BARC and after the introduction of rural ratings. So there is no base, thus whatever the numbers we will be getting will form the base for the future events.

How do you intend to make football more inclusive for the Indian audiences?
The audiences may not be football fans on a week-in and week-out basis. They may not watch an English Premier league or a La Liga, but if you ask them they will say that they have watched the UEFA EURO or the FIFA World Cup. There are people in this country who understand football and follow the game, but they watch only the big events. So our idea is to generate interest, appeal to and also broaden the viewership base by appealing to fans of other sports, which includes a huge chunk that watches cricket. If we can appeal to them and get them to watch this particular tournament, then that will be a great step towards broad basing football, and that is the larger goal that we have worked with.

What about certain pockets in India that are football fanatics – like West Bengal, Kerala, the North East?
The efforts always need to be made irrespective of the market or the viewership base. Even in markets like Bengal and the North East, which are extremely big for football, you can create more buzz, interest and conversations. So I don’t think you can say that any market is less or more important. I agree that some are more active while some are less active, but our efforts are to appeal to as big as a part of the country as possible.

Please tell us about the brand tie-ups or marketing tie-ups being done for the UEFA EURO 2016?
Lots of it actually. We have an active base of about 35 advertisers on Euro talking to the television space.

Who are the key sponsors?
Gionee, Amul, Hero are among our 10 sponsors and there are about 25 other advertisers.

What kind of premium has this inventory been sold at?
It’s comparable with cricket rates. I don’t want to get into specifics of rates and all, but it’s comparable with a high profile cricketing event.

Are you looking at increasing the ad rates as the tournament reaches the quarter final or the semi-final stage?
We definitely will increase it. However, in football you really don’t have that much of inventory available. So I’m already 95 per cent sold out.

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