..Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) expects the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 to reach 100 million viewers. This is more than double the reach that the U-17 FIFA World Cup garnered recently.
The broadcaster will have four language feeds for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018, which will take place in Russia from 14 June till 15 July. The event will air on Sony Ten 2 in English and Sony Ten 3 in Hindi. There will also be a Bengali and Malayalam audio feeds on Sony ESPN.
SPNI president sports, distribution Rajesh Kaul said, “The FIFA World Cup reach will easily cross 100 million. The U-17 Fifa World Cup which took place in the country last year reached 47 million viewers which he said is unprecedented for that event. Soccer is the second most popular sport in the country after cricket.”
Kaul noted that the FIFA World Cup matches will take place at Indian prime-time. The broadcaster has roped in former player Bhaichung Bhutia for the event.
SPNI will run a campaign for 30 days to create awareness about the FIFA World Cup and the tagline is ‘Meri Doosri Country’. The campaign will run across all SPNI’s 31 channels print and digital.
The campaign is based on the premise that soccer is the one sport where India does not have national representation at the top. So when the World Cup comes for a month people out of necessity support another team. Indians become passionate fans of another team. For instance, Goans support Portugal. The campaign took five months to put together.
“Fifa is an integral part of our strategy. The soccer World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. We want to make the experience as big as possible. The campaign will be on all our 31 channels. We will do a 360-degree promotion including print, digital and social media. We want to give fans a stadium experience. We will have a team in Russia that will give people a feeling of not just what is going on inside the stadium but also outside like fan parks,” Kaul said.
The ‘Meri Doosri Country’ campaign is inspired by Indian fans who adopt their favourite national football team once every four years during the World Cup. The ad shows people cheering and flaunting their support for their Doosri Country by wearing the team jerseys, waving their team flags and even painting their faces with their team colours.
Kaul noted that all premium soccer properties (apart from the EPL) are with SPNI. “SPNI has been the home of Fifa for four years. We started with the broadcast of the World Cup in 2014. Last year the Under 17 World Cup took place in India. Now we have the big one in Russia. Since it is in primetime the interest level among sponsors is high,” he noted.
He added that the broadcaster will use AR and VR technology to make the experience immersive.
Bhutia said that for soccer to grow more kids need to play it and that is already happening. AIFF, he noted, has a grassroots programme and more investment is needed in grassroots events. As more kids play more talent will emerge. He also said that district and village tournaments are important. He pointed out that the first step is for kids to play on the streets. Then as they grow older they get more organised....