Feb 14, 2011

FIH needs lesson in Marketing!

One of the most important jobs of international sporting bodies is to promote/market their respective sport. FIFA has been doing if very well. ICC is also doing it. FIBA (Basketball) is also doing if really well. In the 2006 World Championship in Japan, FIBA had 670 outlets selling over 350different merchandise items. The only international sporting body that has yet to learn about the promotion of its sport in FIH.
Hockey is one of the most popular sport played around the world (3rd in the list of Buzzle.com, and 6th in the list of sportingo.com). But still FIH has not done anything to popularise the hockey in the world. And due to this hockey is losing its current viewership in the countries where it was a popular sport. No doubt today also there are die-hard fans of hockey but it is not so popular among people as it used to be earlier.
During 2010 World Cup played in New Delhi, it was very tough to find merchandise (may be there was no one selling merchandise). And even today it is very difficult to find any official merchandise of hockey (unless you order from the hockey federation websites of various countries).
FIH has also failed to bring hockey to the masses through TV. There is a phrase in India “Jo dikhta hai vo hi bikta hai” and this saying is true for ever market in the world. And FIH has to understand and use this saying if it wants to promote hockey. Advertising agencies bombard the viewers until the message sinks in.
To increase the dwindling viewership of hockey FIH has to start acting now. And they can start by taking a cue from Euro Hockey League. The tournament started in the year 2007-09. But thanks to TV partners EHL has now more than 1 million people watching the tournament. They just do not have hockey fans watching the tournament but also sports fan in general. This was possible due to good TV and Internet coverage.
Another way of promoting hockey is going by the Netherland way. And this is the best way to increase interest among the fans. Netherland has promoted hockey by ‘push’ marketing strategy and they have gained a lot from that. They started off by paying money to channels to show local games live on TV. After a period of time these channels paying the hockey association to show matches on the TV. And the association also picked the time slots before football games which turned out to be prime time view for the people. This strategy adopted by the Dutch hockey association has helped hockey very much in Netherlands.
FIH needs to overhaul itself totally. And the best for FIH to start promoting is India and Pakistan. Both these countries are considered to be hockey hub, despite decreasing popularity. And Indian markets will be very helpful to promote hockey. FIH has seen the power of money in India and that is the reason they are going to organize at least one tournament in India every year.
It is high time for FIH to promote hockey again if it wants to save hockey. But looking at the current batch of people who are running the federation who are more interested in making money than promoting hockey, it will be tough to see what will they do to save hockey from dying a slow death

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