SonyLIV, the digital OTT (over-the-top) platform from Sony Pictures Networks India, has been in the football OTT space for close to five years now, having started with the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and then the 2016 Euro tournament. However, this year’s football World Cup has been different for the platform for a variety of reasons, says Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India. Perhaps the biggest among them is the fact that the platform reached the 70 million user mark during the tournament, outdoing their projection of 45 million. “This year’s FIFA World Cup was of course a big event for us at SonyLIV because for one, the match timings this time were ideal for Indian audiences. We also worked to build a great deal of interest and buzz around the tournament with campaigns like Meri Doosri Country and ScreamLoud. We hit about 70 million users for the entire tournament, as per Akamai data,” Sodhi tells us.
While data on the platform’s monthly active users post the World Cup will only be available next month, he points out that the tournament has significantly driven user base growth. “Before the World Cup, our monthly user base was in the region of 25 million. During the World Cup, we had 95 million monthly active users,” he says. Of these, 10% were paid subscribers while the rest opted for the free feed with a five minute delay. While a large chunk of the viewership came from markets like Kolkata, Cochin and the big metros, cities like Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Pune and Jaipur also contributed greatly. Another interesting statistic is that 17% of the viewers were female.
Sodhi is also pleased with the average time users spent on SonyLIV. “The average time spent on the site during the World Cup was about 16 minutes. For a 90 minute game, 16 minutes is a good number! Some of the paid subscribers have obviously spent much more time on the site than the ones watching it for free,” he says. Aside from broadcasting games in six languages, SonyLIV brought in a few innovations to engage with users better. “With Match Centre, we gave viewers a better experience by providing real time data and updates on the matches, allowing them to get real time stats and data on a player or team during the game. During the studio shows on TV, we ran interesting contests for fans to participate in through SonyLIV like predicting the winner of the game,” he explains.
The football extravaganza saw brands from diverse sectors on board with SonyLIV, a testament to the fact that advertisers are looking beyond urban, premium audiences. Talking about advertiser interest in the tournament this year, Sodhi adds, “We had 36 advertisers who partnered with us for the entire World Cup, and we did a lot of innovative stuff with these brands. It’s been interesting to see the diversity in the brands that have come on board – we have had advertisers like Patanjali, Apple, Godrej, Mondelez, ITC, VIP, etc.”
The platform is betting big on the massive cricket line-up ahead, which includes the ongoing India-England series. “The good part is that we have now created a loyal sports audience base on SonyLIV. The World Cup may be over, but we have a lot of cricket coming up. We have got 70 days of cricket in England. Then there is the Asian Games, which is another huge property followed by the Indian tour of Australia later this year.” SonyLIV also has a host of other offerings for the sports enthusiast such as NBA and WWE matches. Additionally, the platform also broadcasts various leading European football leagues, the Champions Trophy and the UEFA Championship. With this variety in sports content, Sodhi adds that his objective is to offer consumers the best live sports experience. Additionally, the platform is also looking at cinema and TV shows to drive further growth.
“Our aim is to make SonyLIV the go-to platform for all things sports. We have also invested heavily on the movies front, so there is a lot of content lined up that will capture the viewers’ attention. Most of our traffic today comes from TV shows, movies and live sports, so we will continue to keep the focus on that. With our GEC and cinema content, our aim is to offer the best possible entertainment line-up for our consumers,” Sodhi says.