An interview with Aly Rana-Tower Sports Pakistan
Aly Rana joined Tower Sports (Pvt.) Limited in July 2018. Prior to joining Tower, Aly was a director with Mashreq Bank in Dubai where he was responsible for creating Mashreq bank’s real estate investment funds. Prior to Mashreq, Aly was the Vice President of Private Equity at Bank Alfalah. Aly has a bachelor’s degree in Management and Marketing from LaRoche College, USA.
Following is the edited transcript of a recent conversation BR Research had with Mr. Aly Rana regarding Ten Sports, the oldest sports channels in the country:
BR Research: Tell us about yourself and about changing your field of work after an extensive experience in equities and investment banking?
Aly Rana: I work for a company called Tower Sports (Pvt.) Limited, which is the landing rights license holder for Ten Sports in Pakistan. I’ve been a sports fanatic my whole life, I follow everything from golf to the UFC. I met the Ten Sports team by chance in Dubai and we had a great conversation about sports in Pakistan and its significant potential for growth. Shortly after that conversation I was offered the position, I had very limited knowledge about broadcasting or media, but this was an opportunity for me to do something that I was passionate about, so here we are!
BRR: Tell us about the company and its ownership structure because there has been a lot of confusion regarding it.
AR: Ten Sports was originally established by a United Arab Emirates Group led by Mr. Bukhatir. He had been instrumental in bringing cricket to the Middle East in the 90s. Over the years, Ten Sports ownership has moved around and most recently it has been bought by Sony Corporation, Japan through its subsidiaries. Few people know this, but Ten Sports is a brand owned and operated by Sony Corporation which is the 97th ranked company on the Fortune 500 list.
Today Ten Sports is a brand name that only exists in Pakistan - an international quality channel built specifically for Pakistan.
BRR: Which sporting events does Ten Sports have broadcasting rights for?
AR: We’ve got a very strong library. Ten Sports right now has the rights for Pakistan Cricket Board, South African Cricket Board, English Cricket Board, Australian Cricket Board, ICC, and the Asian Cricket Council. In addition, our other cricket rights include the Big Bash League and T10 League. Furthermore, we’ve got a large number of football rights that include FIFA, Champion’s League, La Liga, Seria A, Super League, European Qualifiers, etc. Then we have right for WWE, which is one of our most sought after products in Pakistan and enjoyed by the viewing public. We also have a number of other rights that include the UFC, NBA, Tennis, racing etc. But since we only have one channel, we can’t always broadcast everything.
BRR: So are these right exclusive to Ten Sports, or do you share them with other channels in the country?
AR: Most of the rights I’ve mentioned are exclusive to Ten Sports; where there is an opportunity some rights are shared. Ten Sports’ distribution is very strong, and Ten Sports right now is available throughout Pakistan.
BRR: Pakistan’s cable-TV lineup only has a few sports channels compared to the high number of entertainment and news channels. Also in the region, India has a dozen or even more sports channels. Do you see this as an advantage to you, or do you think there is a need for more sports channels in Pakistan?
AR: We need to start developing other sports in Pakistan; currently, we are too dependent on cricket. And our focus is to bring these different sports to the country. I think there’s always room for more players, because competition improves the market.
BRR: How do you plan to grow the brand further? What is your strategy?
AR: As per the recent ranking by Aurora magazine, Ten Sports is the most viewed sports channel in Pakistan; we want to continue to build on that reputation and performance. You must have noticed that we’ve come out very strongly with ICC World Cup 2019 campaign; we took out a popular song ‘Hamaari Baari’ for the World Cup, which was very well received. And we have also started re-engaging with our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers. We want to continue to grow our social media presence in Pakistan and engage our viewers with a number of new and exciting activities that we are working on.
As mentioned earlier, we continue to bring the biggest global sports events to the Pakistan television screen, and we are now also looking to re-grow the local sports scene and help bring that quality production and packaging that will market these local sports in Pakistan.
So our strategy going forward is to start working more with the domestic market. We are an international channel built for Pakistan, and we want to help grow sports in Pakistan. Ten Sports is the country’s oldest sports channel, and it is committed to this country and the growth of sports here.