FIFA World Cup 2014 concluded on July 13-14 with an exciting final between Germany and Argentina, which Germany clinched with a single goal scored late into extra time. The month-long football tournament kept India awake as the matches took place late into the night as per IST.
FIFA World Cup 2014 has garnered more eyeballs in India as compared to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in 2010. As per data from TAM subscribers for Week 26 (June 22 to June 28), Sony SIX garnered 152 TVTs for the 2014 World Cup in comparison 146 TVTs for matches 1 to 27 in the previous World Cup, thus, registering a 4 per cent rise in viewership. The viewership is expected to register a surge for the quarter final, semi-final and final matches.
Further to this, TAM data shows that Sony SIX has been at no.1 spot among its sports competitors from Week 16 to Week 26 (April 13 – July 5), that is, 11 weeks in a row. The total reach combined from Sony SIX and its Bengali channel Aath crossed just over 50 million, this is excluding the data from some of the quarter finals and semi finals matches. In comparison the reach in India during the entire tournament in 2010 was 62.7 million. This is despite some of the matches in 2014 beginning at mid night. However, this is definitely much less than the 125 million reach that the sports channel was expecting to garner from the tournament.
Commenting on this, Prasanna Krishnan, Business Head, Sony SIX said, “Usually the matches of Brazil and Argentina have a higher traction and viewership. These are the two most popular teams with Indian views. Argentina traditionally gets the highest viewership. The Argentina quarter final match (versus Belgium) garnered the highest ratings. The biggest success has been the Bengali language commentary (on Aath). Bengal has always been one of the biggest markets for football, but the local touch we added by adding Bengali commentary on our show on a comparative basis opened up the market from a local market perspective.”
Though, it has to be noted that matches 1-27 consisted of a fair amount of matches that were in the 9:30 pm slot. The semi-final match commenced at 1.30 am, while the final match began at 12.30 am, thus it remains to be seen whether the ratings will still hold up.
Tarun Nigam, Director, PM Media Solutions remarked, “You can see in the social media space people are talking about it like a morning newspaper. People are seeing it and resuming to office in the morning. The late problem of soccer was something that people had about four years back, now people are all set for watching soccer whether it is late in the night too. It is not at all a hampering block. Soccer is on an upward trend and it is slowly becoming the second sport for youth in India after cricket. I think it is because of the exhaustion levels with cricket and there always was a leaning towards a second sport.”
The channel, which has invested Rs 540 crore to acquire the rights of two World Cups, that is, FIFA World Cup 2014 and 2018 and the Euro Cup 2016, is definitely looking to monetise on the tournaments over the four years. With the ad rates for a 10-second spot at Rs 2 lakh to Rs.2.5 lakh at the beginning of the tournament, the rates have gone up since then. Though some online reports have said that spot rates for the last four matches have doubled, there hasn’t been any confirmation on this. Prasanna, however said that they have been selling at an average rate of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs.2.75 lakh per 10-second spot.
Nonetheless, the tournament has attracted sponsors such as Hero MotoCorp, Xolo Mobile and Microsoft as the three main sponsors, with each paying Rs 17 crore-Rs 19 crore. Associate sponsors and spot sponsors included Amul, Dell, Lenovo, Voltas, Pepsi, Hike Messenger, Tata Docomo, Amity, Garnier Men’s Facewash, Bajaj Finserv and Fogg, among a few.
Debraj Tripathy, Managing Director, Mediacom said that he sees a difference in the kind and quality of sponsors in India with every FIFA World Cup. “I remember in the World Cup before this people (channel) had difficult to even sell (ad space). So, I definitely think that once ratings show that interest has gone up, they will end up getting committed sponsors. I think they will start to get committed sponsors who will say “yes they want to back the game”. So, among this the only thing missing is India doing well in the game. Once hopefully they start to do well in the game, I am sure it will be a winner,” he added.
When asked about the severe criticism faced by the channel on its Twitter account regarding the lack of planning on the show Café Rio, which had presenters and panelists swapped time and again, Prasanna maintained that this all was as per plan. “As far as the changes in the programme are concerned, the changes in the panelist where a planned activity. John Abraham was the brand ambassador of our whole campaign so it was obviously logical to bring him on our show. If you look at the numbers for the World Cup itself, probably 90 per cent of the viewers that watch the (FIFA) World Cup are not regular football fans, they come in for the World Cup. Now to those fans they are not the one’s taking to Twitter because they are not using the benchmarks that the English Premier League fan is using. An EPL fans, for instance, are accustomed to a particular style of coverage which is being provided but change is a difficult thing for him to except,” he added.