Our idea is to build a sports community in India: Neville Bastawalla, SPN

Neville Bastawalla, Head, Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Business, SPN, shares his plans to cement the network as a global multi-sports arena

e4m by Arpita Mukherjee
Updated: Dec 18, 2019 9:34 AM
Neville Bastawalla SPN

In a bid to cement Sony Pictures Sports Network as a global multi-sports arena, and to reach new audiences, Neville Bastawalla, Head, Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Business, Sony Pictures Network India (SPN), is looking at focused and relevant marketing efforts.

On the need for ‘massification’ of sporting events

“The challenge is to modify global sporting events, which millions and lakhs of people watch globally, for the Indian viewers. It’s important to understand why it is not connecting and cutting ice in India. These were the kind of questions we started looking at in the month of January, saying how do we grow the sports pie in the entertainment space,” explains Bastawala. The solution, according to him is ‘massification,’ which will increase awareness in a country where 70% of sports viewership still comes only from Indian cricket. The rest of the viewership, he points out, is driven by its international counterparts and other sporting events such as WWE, and Kabbadi. Even the world’s biggest league football event, UEFA Champions League is yet to gain favour among viewers.

On building a sports community in India

“The idea is to build a sports community in India. Keep the existing community engaged, and keep building it further,” says Bastawala, adding, that what will work really well is driving relevance to this viewing through localisation. The broadcaster has brought on board Bollywood celebrities like Farhan Akhtar and Varun Dhawan, to promote sporting events like UEFA Champions League, and UFC. In order to popularise the long cricketing rivalry between England and Australia, the sports network has also launched a campaign in Hindi. Sony is also banking on the Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO, among consumers with its #SonaManaHai campaign to promote late-night viewing of UEFA Champions League.

Keeping the love for cricket alive

Bastawala also adds that the love for cricket in India has no boundaries, and this insight, which they cracked in March has led to the creation of the namesake campaign, ‘Love for Cricket knows no Boundaries,’ conceptualised by Scarecrow M&C Saatchi. It tells the story of cricket fan Charles Rao, ahead of several upcoming highly anticipated cricket series in the months ahead.

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