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Just for kicks

business Updated: Jun 14, 2010 02:08 IST
Rachit Vats

Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA’s) World Cup 2010 has seen an enviable build-up as seemingly everyone across the world has expressed keen interest in it. Marketing fervour is high, as is viewer passion.

The vibes are being felt in India too. As Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Media, observed: “Soccer, as a sport, has been gathering more viewers and enthusiasts in India, mainly among the young audience and the affluent global travellers. So the kind of brands that easily associate with the sport have been the colas, shoes, mobile handsets, motorbikes and telecom service providers. While globally Adidas, Coca-Cola and Sony are partners, in India Vodafone, Airtel, LG, Samsung and Hero Honda are the kind of brands that have taken up TV sponsorships. These brands understand the need to look beyond just ratings.”

“Football is considered more edgy and unpredictable, especially in comparison to cricket. The 90-minute game with never a dull moment is preferred by consumers who are hard pressed for time,” said Piyush Mathur, president, India, The Nielsen Company. The company’s global online survey on viewer interest in FIFA 2010 shows that 81 per cent of the Indian respondents said they would watch the tournament on TV.

ESPN Star Sports, which has the telecast rights for FIFA 2010, “has been asking for approximately Rs 15-16 crore for co-presenting and Rs12-13 crore for associate sponsor. They would get approximately Rs 80 to 100 crore on the property,” estimated Dias. A spot for co-sponsor is known to have been sold at Rs 1.70 lakh per 10 seconds.

ESPN says says it has sold all its ad inventory across the 64 matches and garnered nearly three times more revenues over FIFA 2006.

Compared to the Indian Premier League 3’s delivery of Rs 700 crore to Multi Screen Media (SET Max) this year, the expected Rs 100 crore to ESPN in India may seem paltry. However, there’s no denying advertisers and sponsors are looking beyond cricket now as the interest in FIFA builds up across India.

“We are subscribed 2.5 times over FIFA 2006 The average TRP (television rating point) then was 2.4; we are expecting a 2.75 average this time,” said R C Venkateish, MD, ESPN Star Sports.

TRP is a viewership measurement as a percentage of the total TV viewing audience across cable & satellite homes.

For television manufacturers, FIFA 2010 is a big opportunity to drive higher-end flat-panel — LCD, LED, plasma —sales. According to industry estimates, television sales could get a 17-20 per cent boost as consumers prefer to upgrade to better, bigger sets. In the soccer interest regions, sales may even double. The promise of high definition delivery by a number of services such as digital and DTH is giving a further fillip to the top end of TVs. Sony India, a FIFA partner, is pushing its 3D TV in India, riding on FIFA 2010.

Chinese TV company, Haier, is betting on FIFA to up its LCD and LED TV sales. It has John Abraham as its brand ambassador for LED TVs and has launched the Haier 'Free Kick’ offer, a scratch card scheme on LED/ LCD TVs above 81 cm (except 32S9), in which a customer can win 100 per cent cash back or an Adidas track jacket autographed by John Abraham, worth Rs 2,290.

“We expect a huge jump (100 per cent) in sales in West Bengal, Kerala and Goa. Overall, we expect a 20 per cent jump,” said Eric Braganza, president, Haier India.

LG India too is aiming at the high end. “FIFA is a major sporting event. We are focusing more on West Bengal, Kerala and the North East for our products. We expect a 50 per cent LCD TV sales jump from these markets during the FIFA duration,” said Rohit Pandit, business head, home entertainment, LG India.

Both LG and Samsung are offering schemes during the FIFA season on their higher end TV models.

There is intense competition among the DTH players, who are offering discounts or free subscriptions (to ESPN Star Sports) and promising to telecast in HD format. All are offering schemes, freebies and HD transmission of FIFA 2010.

Reliance BigTV started leveraging this opportunity just before the IPL 3 started, offering subscribers a discounted Rs 40 rate, and new subscribers a silver pack for Rs 1,790 with all sports channels free for three months. “FIFA is a well-defined sporting event, following IPL 3 and the French Open. We expect to grow volumes by 40 per cent,” said Umesh Rao, senior VP - marketing, Reliance BigTV.

Indian retailers Shoppers Stop and Landmark are selling FIFA-licensed merchandise. While Shoppers Stop and Adidas are selling the official casualwear range, Landmark is focusing on non-apparel merchandise.

Airliner Emirates has tailor-made match-specific packages for its Indian soccer fans intending to fly to South Africa.

“With the overwhelming response to FIFA packages the last time around, we expect it to increase by around 10 per cent this year,” said Orhan Abbas, VP India & Nepal, Emirates Airline.