Thursday, November 02, 2006

The biggest sports show in India. And it's not cricket.

I’m putting my neck out here. Only because I don’t think there’s a big chance I’m wrong.

The show? Nokia Football Crazy on ESPN Star Sports.


Because it’s about football, and football delivers round the year high quality LIVE content. The Premiership, The Champions League, The UEFA, FA Cup, and so on.
Because football viewership is growing across India, thanks to world class football entering our living rooms.
Because investments in football in India are growing each year, pushing the quality of the game in India. Kingfisher is one. Kingfisher is another. Mahindra is one, and the other Mahindra is another.
As the world becomes a smaller place, more brands with global investments in football are entering India and will spend their marketing money in India. A lot of the A&M budget will go into football. Heineken is one, Nike another.
Because European teams are discovering that India’s a great place to be, and can smell the money on tap here. Arsenal and Liverpool are planning a training gig in India in December, for example.
Because cricket is getting boring, and unless India and Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid can pull off a miracle, India’s interest in cricket will die half way through the ICC World Cup Cricket 2007. By then, the EPL will be on the home stretch, and involvement will be incredibly high. Imagine, cricket losing out to football. It could happen -- and timings WILL clash.
Because the world IS a smaller place, and you can’t discuss cricket with your colleagues in the US, in Germany, in Japan. You can, however, with your colleagues in Kenya and Bangladesh.

Because football games are only 100 minutes long, including the half time.

Because any moron can understand football.

But, most importantly, because the show is incredibly inclusive. To the extent I saw a clip of an East Bengal goal against George Telegraph in today’s edition.
Because the show is vibrant, the show is flexible, the show is chameleon-like. Not that there are no rules and no format; the format is one that allows for freshness.
Because they hit upon, and sold to, a sponsor who is equally vibrant. Nokia is always fresh, ever changing, and ever aspirational.
Thanks to Nokia being a sponsor, a lot of the interactive elements (they’ve got podcasts, blogs, game downloads, clips, whatever) are through the mobile phone. And the mobile phone rulz. The rest are on the net, and that’s ok, too.

P.S.: 1. I haven’t done the sensible thing and checked the ratings. I could have. 2. I do not work for, and am not connected to, ESPN Star Sports or Nokia in any manner whatsoever. I watch Ten Sports and Neo Sports and Zee Sports too. My daughter has a MotoRazr. So there.

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