Football has always been a popular sport in India. While the country’s football national team has not captured the international acclaim achieved by its national cricket team, local clubs like Mohun Bagan FC have a solid fanbase.
International tournaments like the FIFA World Cup have always been watched in record numbers across the nation.
SonyLiv, the video-on-demand service from Sony Pictures Networks (SPN), bagged the broadcasting rights for the tournament in India. Banking on its appeal to Indian customers, the company followed through with a massive advertising campaign and has decided to broadcast the matches in multiple local languages, including Hindi, English, Tamil, and Bengali.
However, what might have surprised some people, are the broadcast’s key sponsors, including one of the most popular international sports betting platforms and a cryptocurrency exchange.
Betway and WazirX sponsor the Euro 2020 broadcast in India
According to Casino-Sites.in, a rating website for online casinos and bookmakers in India, Betway India is an international online casino and sportsbook that offers its services to Indians in states where online gambling is not prohibited.
The company is a well-recognized brand in legal sports betting markets worldwide, being a regulated and trusted brand. However, it is surprising to see them market their services on a national broadcast in a country where online gambling remains an unregulated market.
Some might argue that the running advertisements do not promote the online gambling service but the “prediction” game, similarly to how alcohol brands get around advertising regulations by running adverts for their packaged mineral water line.
Another interesting sponsor for the broadcast was the cryptocurrency exchange, WazirX. Cryptocurrency, just like online gambling, is an uncharted legal territory in India.
While it might seem like SonyLiv was willing to sell ad inventory to any bidder, long-standing companies like Dell and Acko Insurance are listed as buyers too.
A tremendous fanbase for the sport and broadcasters
It has been estimated that the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russin generated over 250 million viewers in India. With watching the matches being more convenient than ever, the Euro 2020 tournament should do the same numbers, if not more.
There’s also been a growing trend of higher viewership of domestic Indian matches on OTT and VOD platforms, which could be a signal for a new sports craze to take over the country in the coming next years.