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Football gains ground in India

News, 13 January 2015

MUMBAI: Football continues to make inroads into India's sporting consciousness, with encouraging viewing figures being reported for the recent Indian Super League (ISL) and the upcoming African Cup of Nations currently being promoted.

The Business Standard reported that the numbers attending ISL matches amounted to 1.5m while TV viewing figures reached 429m, although the time spent with ISL games by viewers was less than with games in last summer's FIFA World Cup.

The real impact of ISL was seen in digital media according to Amin Lakhani, leader, South Asia, Team Unilever, Mindshare. "It is on social networks that the well-informed football viewer can be found discussing the game," he said.

Data analysed by social business intelligence firm Simplify360 shows there were 2.2m conversations on social media over the 70 days of the competition, while the official hashtag of the tournament #LetsFootball was used 1.39 million times on Twitter, and the hashtag #IndianSuperLeague trended at the number one spot on Facebook.

Simplify360 also monitored the overall buzz around ISL and some of the sponsor brands – including discussions on ISL, the teams, players and the ads that the sponsors ran – and calculated the value of the resulting earned media.

Financial business Muthoot Group was one of the best performers in this respect, generating earned media worth up to 15% of its paid media.

The figures for other brands were more modest – between 4% and 6% for soft drink Pepsi, around 3% for motorcycle maker Hero MotoCorp, and between 3% and 4% for dairy brand Amul.

Lakhani said that ISL's true digital potential had yet to be realised. "The needle would really shift if ISL can win them [fans] over with its quality of players etc," he declared.

Star players will be in evidence during the 2015 African Cup of Nations, taking place in Equatorial Guinea between mid-January and early February and to which sports and entertainment channel Sony Six has won the broadcast rights.

This will be the first time the competition has been shown live in India and Prasana Krishnan, business head, Sony Six was optimistic about its reception.

"Most of the matches from the tournament are going to be telecast here at prime time, which will only boost its viewership in our region," he told Afaqs!.

Data sourced from Business Standard, Afaqs!; additional content by Warc staff