Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), the Indian television broadcast arm of Sony, expects to fetch revenues of Rs 180-200 crore from the telecast of the FIFA World Cup 2018, which begins on June 14.

According to Rohit Gupta, president, SPN, the expected revenue this year is close to double of what the network made during the last edition (2014) of the world’s biggest football tournament, held once every four years. Advertising spots, which will be aired during the shows before and after the matches and during the half-time interval, have been sold to a bevy of marquee Indian and international brands, including Hero MotoCorp, Pernod Ricard, Volkswagen, and Amazon India.

Fortuitously for SPN, the World Cup is being held in Russia this year and the time difference of three-and-a-half hours (Russia is behind India) means that most of the matches are going to be aired in India during primetime slots such as 8:30p.m., 9:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m., ensuring that many more Indians tune into the matches. True-blue football fans won’t mind staying up for the late night matches that will be beamed at 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. The month-long tournament, which will culminate with the final on July 15, will see 32 countries battle it out for the coveted trophy.

“The conversations in India around football and the World Cup in particular have really accentuated in the past four years since the last edition of the tournament,” Gupta said. He pointed out that the age group of 18-24, which is most glued into the sport, is the ideal target audience that advertisers want to reach out to.

Sony is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the FIFA World Cup telecast grabs maximum eyeballs. While the matches will be primarily telecast, with English commentary, on Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3, it will be broadcast in other regional languages on the Sony ESPN network of channels.

In addition to SPN’s television network, the broadcasters will also be airing the matches on its digital platform, Sony LIV. Gupta expects additional revenues of up to 25%, or up to 40-50 crore to flow in from the digital platform. According to media reports, 62 million viewers tuned into the FIFA World Cup matches in 2014.

SPN, which held the broadcast rights to the Indian Premier League (IPL) for a decade since its inception in 2007, is pinning its hopes on other sporting properties to make up for the loss in revenue due to Star India snagging the IPL rights from the 2018 season onwards. Apart from the FIFA World Cup, it will also air international cricket matches featuring India and England; followed by India and Sri Lanka. It also holds the rights to broadcast other sporting properties such as WWE (wrestling) and UFC (mixed martial arts) in India.

“We made a decent margin on our investment into IPL by broadcasting the tournament for 10 years,” said N.P. Singh, CEO, SPN. “We are getting adequate revenues from our other sporting properties that we air currently.”

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