Raahil Chopra
Jun 05, 2023

Have to go beyond football to attract viewers in India: Jose Cachaza

La Liga will have a new identity from the start of next season. We caught up with the football leagues India MD to learn more about its rebranded identity, its return to TV in India, celebrity promotions outside of football and how racism could make a difference to its brand...

Have to go beyond football to attract viewers in India: Jose Cachaza
La Liga, the premier division of football in Spain, is undergoing a brand revamp. Starting 1 July 2023, the league which gets EA Sports as its title sponsor, will have a revamped brand identity consisting of a new logo. The logo sees a change after 20 years, and according to Jose Cachaza, MD, La Liga India, it will help the league connect with Gen Z and also help in adapting it for a digital world.
 
 
Along with the logo, the league has a slogan – ‘the power of futbol’ as the premier division of football in Spain aims to inspire and make a positive impact on society.
 
 
Campaign India caught up with Cachaza to learn more about what the league is doing in India.
 
Edited excerpts:
 
After a three-year absence from television (was aired on Facebook in India), La Liga returned to the medium in 2021-22 with a deal with Viacom18. What prompted the return, and how has it worked for the league?
 
The overall experience of returning to television has been positive. We moved from Sony to Facebook, which was quite an experimental move for us. It was the right thing to do back then and made sense in terms of positioning the brand and experimenting with new avenues to reach the brand. It also made sense economically.
 
The deal with Facebook came to an end because like us, even they were experimenting. They partnered with us in India and then with the UEFA to broadcast the Champions League in parts of South America. They realised that live sport is not where they should be.
 
We had a good relationship with Reliance Sports’ Rise Worldwide. So we got this chance to team up with MTV and Viacom18. Then, when the network launched Sports18, La Liga was the first big asset in terms of the size of product that they acquired.
 
We realised in the beginning that Viacom18 was the right place to be. We were aware that they were still building the operation when we started working with the entertainment channel MTV.
 
The evolution of the audience watching the league while partnering with them has been positive. We are seeing BARC data for TV and a growing audience for OTT, and the numbers have been good.
 
Last season when you partnered with MTV, a lot of football purists were wondering why La Liga was associated with an entertainment channel instead of a sports channel. Did you receive any flack for the same?
 
Yes, many people outside of La Liga had these concerns. We thought while it wasn’t ideal, it was helping us reach out to a different audience. In India, football is in the space where cricket lives. All the other sports contribute around 10% of the market. So, we got into places which got us new fans.
 
Viacom18 has our matches now on Sports18 which is the pure sports channel. That’s the core channel for the best matches. MTV continues to showcase some matches too. Plus, there’s OTT on Jio Cinema and for now, also Voot Select which gives access to fans on OTT. This is the right strategy for what we plan now.
 
We know the whole Viacom18 and Jio Cinema ecosystem is growing, and we are confident we’ll grow alongside.
 
When it comes to the cost of broadcast rights, La Liga is a distant second to the Premier League (England). How can the gap be closed?
 
Most of what we are doing goes in that direction. We have an international structure of having La Liga professionals in 40 countries because we want to get closer to the markets. 
 
The logic is quite easy. Improve the connection with the fans, bring more of them to the market and the value of broadcast and commercial rights will increase. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but our strategy goes in that direction.
 
In the end, everything is about increasing our commercial value.
 
Would big-name players be part of the league help in increasing the commercial value? Over the last few years, the league has lost the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Right now too, big players like Karim Benzema and Luka Modric are at the end of their careers…
 
In the future, players like Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo of Real Madrid could be stars. Barcelona has a roster of youngsters who are amazing like Gavi and Pedri. These are youngsters who will soon be big global stars.
 
Right now the two biggest stars in global football are Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland while none of them are in the La Liga right now, hopefully, they will be soon. 
 
But in popularity, these two are nowhere close to Messi and Ronaldo. We have to be aware that what we got from Messi and Ronaldo is a rarity and will take a long time to get a rivalry like this again. These are stars above Gods. It’s the first time in the history of football that you have two players of that calibre fighting one another for being the king of football, playing in the same league. If you look at history, there was a gap of several years between the playing careers of the likes of Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane, who were arguably the best players at their times.
 
The only comparison we see in team sports of something similar would be Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The NBA also never saw such a competition again. They had bigger players like Michael Jordan, but the competition between two stars was never this way.
 
In the last couple of weeks, racism has come back into the game with the episode against Vinicius. Do you think this will impact the brand and make players of colour sceptical about moving to Spain?
 
It will affect it for sure. We are fighting to get this out of the stadium. Racism or hate has no space in football, cricket or any sport.
 
We need to keep fighting it. And I’d pick up on what Javier Tebas said last week, we will protect the players and their personas. 
 
In markets such as India, would competing with cricket be the only challenge?
 
Yes, 90% of the sports consumption is cricket. If you add all football leagues and their consumption in India, it becomes the second sport in India and is growing. With Rohit Sharma as the brand ambassador, our reach is growing in the country.
 
Many purists criticised this move of Sharma as brand ambassador for La Liga and even so Ranveer Singh for the Premier League. What’s your take on this?
 
We read those rants and a lot of them asked us why we didn't take someone like Bhaichung Bhutia or Sunil Chhetri. But neither of them played in La Liga either.
 
But they’re more connected to the sport of football…
 
We have to go beyond that in India. Rohit Sharma is connected to sport and is a Real Madrid fan. It (the association with Sharma) has helped us grow the fan base in the country for sure. He has 72 million followers on social media, the same number of followers Ranveer Singh has. It gives us a reach outside of the core fan group. The message is quite clear to his fans – your hero loves football and is a big Real Madrid fan, you can watch football and La Liga as well.
Source:
Campaign India

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