It’s not only advertisers and television channels which tapped the potential of the FIFA World Cup 2006 fever, major Indian portals and mobile content providers also derived maximum advantage by specially designing their content for the World Cup to feed the demand of football fans.
Mobile downloads of wallpapers of some of the popular football players, online and mobile games, etc., attracted the maximum number of fans to the Internet.
“The World Cup bonanza shows that the Internet has emerged not only as an alternative medium, but as a parallel medium to a large section of the people in India. With the advent of broadband as well as mobile phones, it is possible to keep a track of the matches even on the go. Websites and mobile content companies are gradually realising the potential of both these mediums and hence, are increasingly beefing up their content for such mega events and in the process successfully attracting more and more users and advertisers,” said Dr Subho Ray, President, Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
HT Media, for example, recorded a 5-7 per cent increase in online revenues, according to Salil Kumar, GM-Business Development, Hindustan Times. Kumar also mentioned that the number of hits during the prime time period at 9.30 pm reached an average of 15 lakh, post-midnight it averaged 20 lakh, while the evening 6.30 pm slot reached an average five lakh.
“In terms of city-wise access to World Cup related activities, Delhi / Chandigarh topped with 40 per cent, followed by Mumbai 30 per cent, Pune 5 per cent, Ahmedabad 5 per cent, Bangalore 10 per cent, Hyderabad 5 per cent and others 5 per cent,” informed Kumar.
According to Surya Mantha, Vice-President, Interactive Services, Sify Ltd, “Thousands of clips of World Cup football related content were viewed on Sify’s broadband portal, Sify Max, in the first two weeks of the tournament.” He added that the most watched clip was related to the Brazil-France match on July 2, which was viewed 25,000 times.”
Online advertisers took full advantage of the World Cup fever. MSN India had advertisers such as Lenovo and LIC Housing, informed R Rajnish, Sales and Marketing Head, MSN India. He also mentioned that netizens, mostly in the age group of 18-35 years, visited their website for World Cup related activities.
“For Rediff.com, increased page views resulted in more ad inventory, which in turn resulted in better revenue. Football as a platform brought a set of advertisers like Ranbaxy, Maruti Swift, Gillette, Microsoft, Apollo Tyres and others,” said Arvindra Kanwal, Chief Media Revenue Officer, Rediff.com.
“Our response in page views and sponsor interest mirrored cricket and largely caught the interest of Sec A & B urban audiences in eight metros. Smaller towns were slow to respond,” Kanwal said.
Airtel, on the other hand, was one of the presenting sponsors of the FIFA World Cup on ESPN, which had the exclusive telecast rights. It provided soccer fans exclusive World Cup updates sourced from ESPN Mobile like match preview and analysis, short match clips, live alerts and news, exclusive ringtones, ringback tones, wallpapers of famous football players, etc. They also offered the official song of the FIFA World Cup as a Hello Tune and ringtone to all Airtel customers.
Said Sanjay Kapoor, Joint President (Mobility), Bharti Airtel Ltd, “Football and World Cup related content were among the most popular downloads on Airtel Live!, the multi-access entertainment portal of Airtel. As per data available over the last 30 days, the official FIFA World Cup game is among the four most downloaded games. In this visually engaging game, gamers experienced the 12 official stadiums as they took one of their 32 national teams from qualification to glory. ‘Time of Our Lives’, a ballad by Il Divo and Toni Braxton, which was the official FIFA World Cup song, has been among the top 10 downloaded songs in the non-film category on Airtel. Football related images were among the top five downloaded wallpapers.”