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We want to cultivate a multi-sport viewing culture in India: Neville Bastawalla

Stage is set for the epic clash between the Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers in Mumbai today as part of the NBA India Games 2019. This marks the first games that teams from a North American sports league will play in India. The American teams will play two pre-season games on October 4 and October 5, which will be aired on Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 1 HD as well as on the SonyLIV platform. 

Excited about the games, Neville Bastawalla, Head - Marketing & On Air Promotions - Sports Business, Sony Pictures Networks India, mentioned, “Even the President of the United States, Donald Trump, talked about the first ever NBA games in India with Prime Minister Modi at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in the US. World leaders talking about the NBA games in India – it doesn’t get any bigger than that!” 

For the NBA Games in India taking place on October 4 and 5, the brands that have associated with Sony Pictures Sports Network include Garnier Men, Croma, Apple and Glenfiddich, Bastawalla said. Among other partners supporting the event are Reliance Foundation, Gatorade, Myntra, Dream11, Nike, etc. 

Elaborating on the marketing and promotional activities, Bastawalla said, “Sony Pictures Sports Network, in synergy with NBA, has rolled out a complete 360 degree high intensity campaign spanning across OOH, print, television, social media, digital and radio to promote the India games. In addition to that, on-ground marketing promotions include the incredible #NBAinmybackyard light projection for the NBA games in India at the Gateway of India, along with India’s first ever floating court near Bandra Worli Sealink in Mumbai.” 

The Max, a Tribes Group and DDB Mudra JV company, was mandated to create buzz for the games. The #NBAinmybackyard campaign includes all the elements of the NBA culture that exist in the countries that actively follow the game, such as street art, Hip Hop, etc. “We wanted to bring to life essence of that culture along with the games to our backyard – India,” said Gour Gupta, CEO, The Max and Managing Director of Tribes Group

The team at The Max created an artistic storyboard narrated through 3D mapping projection on the Gateway of India to usher in the games. On September 28 and 29, the historic monument came alive with the colours of NBA and that of the playing teams visiting the country – Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings. 

Four graffiti artists in Mumbai – NME, Minzo, Mooz and Dexter – were commissioned to paint the city with the colors of NBA, covering over 4,000 sq ft of walls, including a basketball floor. 

This apart, 5 Hip Hop acts were commissioned across the country – Meba Oflia from Shillong, Madurai Souljour from Madurai, Brodha V from Bengaluru, Shahrule as well as Frennzy from Mumbai – to create 5 tracks that welcome NBA to their backyard. These were distributed across various streaming platforms and radio channels. 

In the final leg of the journey, a floating basketball court was created in the Arabian Sea, which was unveiled on October 2, 2019. 

In a bid to create a pan-India appeal for NBA, Bastawalla said that Sony Pictures Sports Network and NBA have been working together for “the massification and growth of NBA in India”. He added, “In a cricket-obsessed country, #NBAinmybackyard has created a total disruption. For the first time in the history of India, Sacramento Kings will face off the Indiana Pacers for two pre-season games right in our backyard in Mumbai. We believe that #NBAinourbackyard will be the bridge to massifying the appeal of NBA to audiences across India.” 

In the global multi-sports arena, Sony Pictures Sports Network has some premium international properties in its portfolio, such as FIFA events, UEFA Champions League, Serie A, UFC, WWE, NBA, MotoGP, Rugby World Cup and more. 

“Our pioneering objective is to cultivate a multi-sport viewing culture in India, and over the past year, we have undertaken a ‘massification’ strategy to take sporting events to a wider audience across demographics. The success of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on our network, with 177 million Indians tuning in, showed us that audiences here have a huge appetite for different sports and it is important for us to take such premier content to them. Our Hindi commentary for weekend games has also opened up the sport to a wider audience,” Bastawalla further said.

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