Mumbai: Football is rapidly becoming one of the most followed sports for Indian audiences. It has seen a massive growth in the past few years in the country, with over 500 million viewers sampling the sport in FY 2017-18. As the audience focus shifts from a cricket loving to a multi-sport viewing nation, the fan following for international football leagues, clubs and players is steadily on the rise in the country. This growth was further confirmed by the highly successful 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia which saw a total cumulative reach of 254 million viewers* on SPN.
The sports channels of SPN continue to be the one-stop destination for football fans to catch the best players and the best teams in the sport. With the acquisition of UEFA Nations League and UEFA EURO 2020, SPN is the official broadcaster of eight premier international football properties in the Indian subcontinent including UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, LaLiga, Serie A, UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup. All the action will also be available for exclusive live-streaming on SPN’s OTT platform, SonyLIV.
The UEFA Nations League has been created for the 55-member nations of UEFA, the European governing body of football. This will largely replace international friendlies in Europe. The inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League is set to kick off this week and includes 2018 FIFA World Cup Champions France along with Croatia, Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal and more. While the World Cup and the EURO championship will take place in every alternate even-year, the UEFA Nations League will take place every odd-year. The group fixtures for the League of Nations will be played over six match days between September and November of 2018, with the finals set for June 2019. European teams dominated the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and these teams will be now battle again in the UEFA Nations League as we head towards the UEFA EURO 2020. The first week features France v Germany, England v Spain and Portugal v Italy.
The 16th edition of UEFA EURO 2020 is going to be unique as it is not going to be hosted by one country, but rather spread out across the whole continent. 12 cities in 12 different countries will host matches, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the tournament. The EURO 2020 will run from 12th June – 12th July in 2020 and will feature 24 teams. Qualifiers for the tournament will run from 21st March 2019 – 31st March 2020. Led by Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal won the historic championship in 2016 and will return as the defending champions.
There is no better time to be a football fan in India. The new football season, which began last month, has sparked great interest. With current Ballon d‘Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo moving to Juventus this season, the Serie A has already received increased viewership from fans in India. The biggest club competition in the world, the UEFA Champions League draw has also pitted the Portuguese star against his former club, Manchester United. One of the most popular clubs in the country, Barcelona is in the group of death with Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan and PSV. In addition to this, one of the biggest rivalries in the sporting world will resume as Real Madrid and Barcelona battle for supremacy in LaLiga.
Rajesh Kaul, Chief Revenue Officer Distribution and Head – Sports, Sony Pictures Networks India said “Our objective is to bring the best footballing action from around the world making the sports channels of SPN the premier destination for all sports fans. Be it national team or club football, we have acquired and retained rights to the best properties in the world. We are delighted to acquire the rights for the UEFA Nations League and UEFA EURO 2020.”
“2018 FIFA World Cup Russia showed us the strength of European football with European teams winning the last four editions of the World Cup. The World Cup has also shown us that the need for international football tournaments is very high with fans looking for more than just international friendlies. As the ‘Home of Football’ SPN will gave fans the best experience to see the best clubs, teams, and players in the world.”