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Sports channels find digital engaging, but revenue generation & penetration remain a challenge

11-November-2009
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Sports channels find digital engaging, but revenue generation & penetration remain a challenge

The growth of the digital medium is seeing new categories exploring this medium, more so the sports channels. With the launch of 3G in the country, mobile TV is likely to play a key role in the growth of non-cricket sports in the India. The growth of the Internet via mobile or online is said to be the next television. However, broadband penetration in smaller towns and cities and revenue generation through this medium still remain a challenge.

exchange4media finds out what innovations and ways are being employed by different sports broadcasters to tap the digital medium.

Zee Sports has been reportedly increasing its digital spends at the rate of more than 50 per cent a year over the last one or two years. Ten Sports recently came up with a dedicated site for streaming the India-New Zealand series live, which is said to be the first of its kind in India powered by Vdopia. This apart, NBC Universal Digital Solutions (NBCUDS) had partnered with Ten Sports to launch TenSports.com, a free, cricket-focused multiplatform sports portal. The site had live streaming on the Compaq Cup, a triangular Cricket series between India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, which was held in September 2009.

Neo Sports, on the other hand, has been extensively using the digital medium, mainly targeted at the non-cricket audience. Neo Sports is a niche brand that focuses on sports like golf, tennis, football and motor sports, the audiences for these sporting events are usually urban and have a high degree of time spent on the Internet. Neo Sports had launched a microsite, ‘Weekend kick off’, which is aimed at football fans in India. ‘Weekend kick off’ is contest driven site, wherein winners get a chance to see their favourite teams play ‘live’ in the country where the match is being played.

Atul Pande, CEO, Zee Sports, explained, “Digital media is fairly significant today, it clearly is a medium that gives us face-time with our viewers in terms of programme information and keeping them engaged in terms of contests, and we are continuously using this medium. Typically, in our Ten Sports website, we are and we would be allowing hand screening and interactive services, and through most of the DTH platforms we are integrating a lot of our interactive services. Though the revenues out of it are miniscule, I believe that in three to five years’ time, digital medium will become a significant part of our revenue as well.”

Pande further said, “Largely when online, we target the young urban professional, who essentially spends 60-90 minutes on the net everyday and is used to deriving a lot of information from the Internet, and the global Indian audience, hence we are targeting the Indian Diaspora. Within Indian context, I would say about 8-10 cities would give us about 90 per cent of our traffic right now, but we expect this traffic to increase as the bandwidth connectivity expands to smaller cities, and this, along with mobile telephony and m-commerce, will become larger. The challenge here, however, is to find revenue generating options, how do we price it on a self-sustaining basis. Our digital spends have been increasing at a rate of more than 50 per cent a year over the last one or two years.”

Abhishek Verma, Head - Marketing and Communications, Neo Sports, observed, “Internet provides high level measurable target, for which we have used the digital medium extensively. Even for cricket we have realised the importance of social media – Facebook, Orkut and even Twitter, wherein we have been updating scores. We are also integrating online media with on-air programming through online comments. The digital medium, I believe, has highly involved critical audience and we are tapping them. Even mobile as a medium has a great future, but right now, it is useful for reminders and contests, etc.”

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