Every weekend, we will have quality football: Sony Six and Kix Business Head Prasana Krishnan
An aggressive approach by Sony Six and Kix has seen the channel tie deals which would see them broadcast the FA Cup, Serie A and La Liga in India. After a successful broadcast of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Copa America, Sony has added these prestigious leagues to its ever-growing portfolio through efforts from one man – Mr. Prasana Krishnan.
The Sony Kix and Six Business Head, who joined the company back in 2013, spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive telephonic interview where he talked about what effort went behind the deals, the impact of these deals on Sony as a brand and much more.
Here are the excerpts:
Do you think the acquisition of La Liga, Serie A and FA Cup will make you the leading sports broadcaster in India?
Let's take it sport by sport before we get caught in semantics. What La Liga, Serie A and the FA Cup as a combination does for me is that it ensures that every weekend, I will have quality football between the top clubs of Europe.
Combined with the deals for international matches, I have an extremely compelling portfolio of football, which enables me to be, from a fan's perspective, the home of football. The reality is that all the top players now – the likes of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – will be on my network now even when they play for their country or the club, except for the Champions League matches. So, from a football content perspective, I believe we will have the most compelling content for a football fan.
La Liga is, currently, home to the 2 best players in the world. Were these the main reasons behind Sony actively pursuing this deal?
I won't say it was just that. Besides the best 2 players, they also have the next best 4-5 players – (Luis) Suarez, James (Rodriguez), Gareth Bale etc. But, besides that it has extremely attractive football and has an extremely large fanbase. Real (Madrid) and Barcelona are among the most followed clubs in the world. Even Valencia and Atletico (Madrid) are coming up in terms of fan following. I personally believe that it (La Liga) is the best league in the world.
Earlier, the complaint was that they used to play their matches late evenings Spanish time, due to which they were at a disadvantage, which has been sorted out now. More primetime matches are taking place, which has led to it becoming the fastest growing league in many parts of the world, including Asia. So, the attraction for me comes from the fact that it is easily one of the best leagues in the world, definitely one of the best in Europe and the fan following for the clubs and players is extremely high.
Let’s talk about Serie A. It does not enjoy a lot of popularity as compared to the likes of EPL or La Liga. Do you think Juventus reaching the Champions League final and almost winning treble help improve the viewership for Serie A in India?
Definitely. Earlier Serie A was very popular, but it had a blip in between and now, Italian football has been on a resurgent path again. It is something I am very excited about as I see an opportunity and a revival in Italian football happening. But, like I said, these things work best in a combination. Juventus and AC Milan have a massive following despite them going through their ups and downs, but the core following does remain.
However, we shouldn't look at any of these deals in isolation as the combination of these 3 leagues – Serie A, La Liga and FA Cup – allows me to provide consistent quality every week.
Sony broadcasted the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have the rights for the 2018 edition as well. How important have these deals been in terms of establishing a footprint in the football broadcasting industry?
Obviously, content is a key aspect when it comes to establishing yourself in any particular sport. For us, FIFA '14, '18 and Euro ‘16 etc. are very significant as part of my content portfolio. Last year, we worked very actively to establish ourselves as the home of international football. We have now expanded that to add some of the top leagues in the world so that we are in a position to go beyond just international football. So, we can provide the best available international or club matches and tournaments. That is the route we have been taking in the last couple of years. Obviously, each one of these properties are very important.
With so many tournaments under the Sony umbrella, how do you plan to do justice to all leagues and show their matches. Will Sony Six be involved alongside Kix?
Sony Kix will be my primary channel for football. When there are multiple matches, I will use my network of channels to show the other matches and in that case Sony Six will also show some amount of football. However, our focus is that from a fans' perspective to have clarity in terms of scheduling and destination for each sport. So, Sony Kix is going to be my primary home of football just like I had earlier worked on devising Sony Six as the home of IPL, NBA etc. The most important football matches will be on Kix.
Sony has acquired rights for international events in all the sports – from MMA to badminton, basketball to football. Is it a conscious effort from your end to be involved in a variety of sports?
It is, actually, because it has been our observation that growth in non-cricket sports is extremely high in this country. For instance, in 2014, over 30% sports viewership came from non-cricket sports. As a combination, the non-cricket sports are becoming more and more relevant. I think we are one of the earlier people to spot this trend. It is definitely a clear trend and is here to stay. We see a lot of growth happening in each of these sports and that is what we have been working towards capitalising.
Sony Six and Kix are new as compared to Star, who has a lot of differential sports programming. What is your strategy of competing with them and other channels like Ten?
I think we are already competing quite effectively. Six is only a 3-year old brand and Kix is just a 3-month old brand, but you see in state of announcements, aggressive acquisition spree and the way we have been dealing with content that we have a strong establishment in the market. I don't see any constraints or challenges in terms of competing effectively with Star or Ten Sports.
Finally, how do you envision the FA Cup, La Liga and Serie A deals to change the face of Indian football?
Access to consistent top quality football is clearly something which is not there I think. We have been focusing on our own Indian association for pushing basketball at both - grassroots level to popularity and viewership. Football will also get similar focus from us, it is one of my priority sports. I have focused on 4-5 core sports - basketball, fight sports, tennis and football besides of course, cricket. Our approach for football will be very similar to how we have dealt with basketball so far.