India is a land of sports enthusiasts, and the power-packed game of football is not only gaining popularity, but also turning to be a hot favourite. Football fan base in India is undoubtedly on the rise, and with the huge build up leading to the high-profile FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, starting next month, the forecast of an uptick in viewership is more than heartening.
Based on previous edition’s viewership and year-on-year growth in football audience, FIFA organisers have said that India will cross a staggering 300 million views for the 2022 edition. These numbers are sure to bring early festive cheers among the viewers, and play a huge role in reviving the market that is rebuilding itself after the pandemic. If the viewership numbers of the FIFA World Cup 2018 are anything to go by, for the first 58 matches, the tournament garnered 194.1 million impressions, while the combined impressions of the first two India vs England T20 matches was 20.7 million.
With the world putting the pandemic behind itself, resumption of live sporting events has the potential to entertain the audience as well as bring equal opportunities for brands and advertisers. And these opportunities can be leveraged by brands during the FIFA World Cup 2022 as the year-on-year viewership for football is on the rise in India. As per data, football universe in India grew by a staggering 17% to 57million in 2021.
With Viacom18 announcing JioCinema as a free-for-all digital destination for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the viewership and engagement numbers for football and the FIFA World Cup in India will climb peaks never achieved so far.
Top advertisers in the country also agree that with the growing popularity of football, the FIFA World Cup presents a very important opportunity from brands.
Acknowledging the rising interest in football in the country, Prasanth Kumar, South Asia CEO at GroupM said that the upcoming FIFA World Cup presents a very important opportunity for brands to associate with the global event. “I think football is growing in the country. There is a lot of interest coming around the sport. And the FIFA World Cup generates a huge interest giving many brands an opportunity to associate with it. It will be great to be a part of it, we are looking forward to the opportunity as well as the event,” said Kumar.
Talking about the highlights of this year’s tournament Kumar said that the interest levels will be high as it is happening close to the region. He added, “And the timing too is good. All these factors add to the opportunity where more people see the sport which is a very good opportunity for brands.”
Sam Balsara, Chairman at Madison World said that there is no doubt that football is gaining popularity even in a cricket crazy country like India, making the FIFA World Cup a very important global advertising event. “The FIFA World Cup is a global event and such events have their own pull and attract viewers. It is a very important global advertising event and over the last few years it is slowly gaining importance in a cricket crazy country like India,” said Balsara.
Contrary to popular perception, the football universe in India is not restricted to just males and a few states. Of the 57 million football viewers in India in 2021, 21 million were females, mostly from the young age group of 16-34 years. The young age group has more affinity towards associating with the brands shown during the matches.
In terms of growth, metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, and Lucknow are reporting a significant growth in audience, however the north-eastern states of the country are driving the spurt in viewership. Fans in India are a dedicated lot and love having a shared experience of watching a football game in a group with friends and family. As group viewings drives conversation, significantly increasing the chances them responding to ads and brands better.
Data reveals that football fans are responsive towards brands that tie-up with the FIFA World Cup. Fans are nearly 1.7 times more likely to buy gadgets in 3-6 months’ time, also they are 2 times more likely to set off on a luxury vacation and even show a huge purchase interest in home appliances and automobiles. With such huge expectations from the audience as well as the market, the FIFA World Cup 2022 is sure to have its best match so far.