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MSM’s soccer play to grow sports portfolio

MUMBAI: With soccer growing in
visibility in the country over the past
few years, Multi Screen Media (MSM)
is using the opportunity to carve a
niche for itself. It launched a second
sports channel Kix more than four
months back. Subsequently, it beefed
up content by scoring a hat-trick of
rights with Serie A, FA and La Liga.
Starting with the ‘home of
international football’ positioning,
MSM has now got rights to league
football which will give its sporting
channels content over a longer period
of time.
“Over the past couple of years, we had
positioned ourselves as the home of
international football. Pretty much
every tournament that mattered and
the qualifiers were aired by us. While
it worked quite well with tournaments
like the Fifa World Cup, the
constraint that we had was that it did
not give us volume content,” Sony Six
and Sony Kix business head Prasana
Krishnan told TelevisionPost.com.
The plan was to have a consistent
offering and transition from being
the home of international football to
being the home of football. “This is
what our recent spate of football
acquisitions has helped us to do. A
combination of the FA Cup, La Liga
and Serie A will give us significant
content,” Krishnan said.
According to Krishnan, Kix is the only
channel that has live soccer every
weekend. “We have more and better
quality football content compared to
competition,” he said. “Now no
serious fan of soccer can afford to
ignore us. For fans of Italian and
Spanish clubs, we are a must have.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of
the biggest clubs on earth.”
Krishnan believes that MSM’s soccer
portfolio is well-rounded with a
combination of properties like Fifa,
Uefa, Copa America, Africa Cup of
Nations, European Qualifiers, South
American Qualifiers and some South
American football.
What about the timings of these
matches? Krishnan said that La Liga
matches are played at better timings.
“Timings were an issue a few years
ago. It used to be a problem with
Spain. Today, a lot of games are
played on primetime. We are now the
home of Messi and Ronaldo. They are
either playing for their leagues or for
their countries.”
Soccer is the number two sport in
India. “After cricket, soccer is the
sport that resonates among
youngsters. Football was always in
our priority list, which is why we
acquired Fifa and Uefa. Finally, the
club football opportunity happened and
this is what we have picked up.”
The priority for Kix is to have a
distinct positioning. “That is why
matches will be shown on Kix. Some
matches, though, will air on Six if
there is an overlap. We are clear that
Six is where we will show IPL (Indian
Premier League), TNA and the NBA.
From a soccer fan’s perspective, it is
important to give them a primary
destination,” said Krishnan.
In terms of distribution, Krishnan said
that the language feeds of the IPL on
Kix ensured that the channel got off
to a good start. “We followed that up
with Copa America, which meant that
we also got the football market. The
India versus Sri Lanka cricket series’
Hindi feed is on Kix. It is further
driving penetration,” he said.
Is MSM considering language feeds for
soccer? “It is too early to consider
that at this stage. We have to
stabilise and grow the base markets
before carrying forward on
innovations. The language feed for
the soccer World Cup in Bengali,
however, got good traction,”
Krishnan summed up.

MSM’s soccer play to grow sports portfolio

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