For four years, I lived in Khar and worked at The Times of India on DN Road. I would leave home at 8.00 am each morning and reach office by about 8.45 for most of the year (unless it was raining heavily).
Each year, I would wait for the schools to close for their holidays. The closure reduced the driving time by a minimum of ten minutes. Driving was heaven.
Now I live at Bandra and work at Lower Parel and I go through the same experience. School holidays reduces the commuting time by about 10 minutes. This Monday morning, the morning after the FIFA World Cup final, the commuting time was down again; the roads were empty at 8.10 am.
It had happened every time there was a big match at midnight in the earlier rounds as well.
The traffic I experience (and, I must add, the TAM ratings) has proven that high quality football is here to stay as a sport that attracts audiences in India, especially in SEC A and B.
While I have seen the ratings for the entire C&S audiences, I have yet to see the data sliced and diced – and I would be shocked if the data for SEC A and B males was not phenomenal, breaking all previous records.
And, this year, many brands had failed to spot this trend – and failed to take advantage of the viewers that this event attracted. What’s certain is that, bolstered by the prime time viewing opportunity that the English Premier League affords, the audience for international football will grow exponentially, and, four years from now when the FIFA World Cup 2014 is held in Brazil, it’s going to be one long month of audiences that brands can tap into. There’s one factor, though, that needs to be taken into account: the timings of the matches. The South African edition was heaven, as most of the matches in the early rounds suited India perfectly. The early matches were at 7.30 IST and the late ones at 00.00 IST. So I thought I would check what would happen in Brazil.
Here goes: The early matches, if played at 1600 hours (as was the time in SA) would translate to 0030 hours in India, and the late matches, at 2030 hours would translate to 0430 in India. That makes the early matches a pain (for people like me, but not for the younger generation) and the late matches eminently watchable (for people like me, but not for the younger generation).
The big advantage is that, for all the matches, one will be home and not in the office – and unlikely to be on flights either. Hopefully, marketers will, aided by the TAM data available, target the audiences better than they have done in this edition of the World Cup.
In the very first issue of Campaign India, in September 2007, I wrote in this very column:
• The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Mumbai Mirror, The Telegraph and DNA devote a minimum of one page to international football, most of it devoted to the Barclay’s Premiership.
• Harish Thawani’s Nimbus Sport buys the internet and mobile rights to the Premiership for more than 80 countries.
• Last week, driving past Shivaji Park, the cradle of Bombay’s cricket, I noticed more a hundred kids playing football. There wasn’t a single cricket bat to be seen.
• Liverpool and Arsenal send their coaches to conduct camps for teenagers in Mumbai.
• If one were to add up all these pieces, the suggestion is that football is growing exponentially in appeal.
• This, in a country that is ranked in the 120s in the FIFA ranking.
• Those who can, play; those who can’t, watch.
I told you so in September 2007. I’m telling you so, again, in July 2010.