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Hindi feed for Australian Open is helping grow viewership in HSM: Rajesh Kaul

Day four of the Australian Open is underway, airing on Sony SIX, Sony TEN 2, and 3. Last year, Sony Pictures Sports Network (SPSN) began Hindi commentary on the Grand Slam tournament for the first time on its Sony TEN 3 channel. The network has roped in premium sponsors – Rolex, Mondelez, Lenovo and Pernod Ricard and more – this year despite it being the first tennis tournament broadcast in India post the pandemic. Despite having a small audience in India, SPSN is growing the viewership base for tennis by leveraging language feeds and in-depth insights on the tournament on their studio show – ‘Extraaa Serve’.

In conversation with Adgully, Rajesh Kaul, Chief Revenue Officer, Distribution and Head - Sports Business, Sony Pictures Networks, speaks about the broadcasters’ strategy to nurture the tennis fandom in India.

Tennis is a very niche sport, where the following is limited. What kind of audience will be watching the tournament?

Tennis has a loyal audience base in India, even though the size is smaller than sports like Cricket and WWE. Premium audiences in the metros like Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru exhibit a higher affinity towards watching Tennis. The Australian Open is one of the few sporting properties that experiences almost equal viewership contribution from females in India.

What will be the pattern of viewership from the start? When will it peak and what kind of brands will leverage it?

Peak viewership usually starts from round of 16. Brands like Rolex, Mondelez, Lenovo, LIC, Reserve Bank of India, Jeep, Accenture, Tourism Australia and more have come on board for the Australian Open.

How is the introduction of live Hindi commentary helping the channel? What kind of expectations are set here?

We had introduced Hindi commentary during last year’s edition of the Australian Open for the semi-finals and final matches. The objective of doing this was to make tennis accessible to a wider audience base in the Hindi heartland. This was the first time tennis fans had an opportunity to watch a major grand slam event with Hindi commentary. The Hindi feed last year on TV had helped grow viewership for the event in Hindi Speaking Markets.

Going forward, will tennis will be an important sport for Sony? Are you looking at other Grand Slam tournaments as well?

Tennis is an important sport for Sony Sports and we are providing live coverage of the Australian Open, one of the biggest grand slams of the world, to a wide audience across 3 channels.

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