Hindi commentary for Australian Open will get new viewers on board: Neville Bastawalla

Neville Bastawalla, Head – Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Channels, Sony Pictures Networks India, talks about programming and marketing initiatives planned for Grand Slam, Australian Open 2020

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 7:56 AM
Neville Bastawalla

The Australian Open 2019 received a 41 million reach compared to the next Grand Slam which registered a 14 million reach last year, the difference between the viewership of the Australian Open versus any other Grand Slam, clearly indicates the potential of the tournament which has started from 20 January.

The official broadcaster for the Australian Open 2020 for India and the subcontinent- Sony Six, is set to take the sports property beyond metros. “ We are going to make it even bigger this year,” said Neville Bastawalla, Head – Marketing & On-Air Promotions, Sports Channels, Sony Pictures Networks India.

For the year’s first Grand Slam, Australian Open 2020, SPSN has planned a series of programming and marketing initiatives for its viewers. The broadcaster is launching various programming initiatives for an unparalleled viewing experience. For the first time since its broadcast in India, the Australian Open Men’s and Women’s Singles Semi-Finals and Finals will have live Hindi commentary on Sony Ten 3 channels. Former India No. 1, Somdev Devvarman will also return to the studio to provide expert analysis on the sports network live studio show for the tournament.

In another initiative, the broadcaster has also done partnerships with hangout spots like Social which will be SPSN’s official on-ground screening partner for the tournament. The Grand Slam will screen live at all of Social’s 25 venues across five cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chandigarh and Bengaluru. Apart from this, the broadcaster is also looking at partnering with Inox. “We will do a live screening of semi-finals or finals, wherein we will invite school children from certain Hindi medium schools and we have an expert who will do a tennis appreciation, break free session before the match starts off,” informed Bastawalla. He also hinted that the broadcaster is also trying to get someone from Bollywood who is a big Australian Open fan to be a part of that screening.

Bastawalla believes that Hindi commentary will do the trick in getting new viewers on board this year. “The moment you get into Hindi commentary, it straight away opens up the volume of reach. In India, cricket leads the viewership in sports. The moment we get into the non- cricket sports like UFC or other genres viewership is very small. How do we massify those niche or ancillary sports? That has been a mantra of our strategic efforts to modify sports. Last year we got Farhan Akhtar on board for the UEFA Champions League, we also tied up with Varun Dhawan for UFC and that helps to drive magic in India and massify sports.”

The broadcasters have signed four big brands on board for the Australia Open such as Kia, Lenovo, LIC and Tourism Australia. The 108th edition of the Australian Open 2020 features defending champions Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka along with the best tennis players in the world like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Simona Halep, Serena Williams, Stefanos Tsitsipas among many more.

The tournament this year could mark many records,  for example, if Federer wins, he could become the oldest Australian Open Champion or Rafael Nadal, who would finally become the joint-most Grand Slam winner in the history of men’s tennis and many more. One of India’s most beloved tennis players, Leander Paes will also put on his final show at the Australian Open 2020, since he announced his farewell tour.

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