Astro All Asia Networks is a Malaysia’s leading cross-media group with significance presence in DTH (Direct-To-Home) TV services, commercial radio and TV programming. The group encompasses of seven different structures which includes MEASAT Broadcasting Network Systems (MBNS) or also known as Astro TV, Astro Entertainment Network (AEN), Airtime Management & TV Programming Sdn Bhd (AMP) radio networks, Tayangan Unggul Sdn Bhd (TUSB), Astro Shaw Sdn Bhd, Measat Publications Sdn Bhd and Digital Five Sdn Bhd. Astro is owned by Binariang Sdn. Bhd. with 85% share and the remaining 15% is owned by Khazanah Berhad. In this study, we will take MBNS as the main organizational where sports marketing lies in this structure. MBNS was established in 1996 with 22 channels broadcasted on air. Today, MBNS broadcasts more than 125 pay-TV channels and serves to more than 2.93 million households including Malaysian TV households, rural and urban. Throughout the technology advancement, the group has paved its innovative roadmap from Standard Definition (SD) to B.yond featuring High Definition (HD) broadcast to Malaysia through Astro B.yond. Up till now, Astro TV has its own 12 HD channels on its platform.
This study is conducted to identify the factors of successful sport’s marketing strategies in pay TV industry in Malaysia which is solely owned by Astro MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd. Astro is a leading pay TV with no major competition in this industry for over 10 years is providing its premium sport’s package in broadcasting the world’s best sports on air. The exclusivity of Astro in showing the world’s best sports has become its major success in up-selling the sports package. Since Astro is represented as a global business environment where most of the contents are taken internationally and disseminate in Asia, how well the firm can do profit and improve humanity can be the most important dimension to look at through deeper understand in consumers’ preferences and income level (Van R. Wood, Dennis A.Pitta, Frank J. Franzak, 2008). Astro sports marketing team is now trying to adapt to local consumer buying behaviour and needs that are driven by the differences in cultural norms. This study later will determine how it can be one of the important factors taken into consideration to ensure the success of sports marketing program strategies.
According to Vivienne Shaw (2000) is her study on successful marketing strategies of German companies in the UK, she had identify that strategic objectives and focus, customer targets, competitor targets and competitive advantage, and interaction of marketing mix play a major role to ensure success. Besides aiming to discover the correlation between customer marketing strategies implementation, it is also will determine the feedbacks from rewarding its current 1.53 million sport’s package subscribers through the execution of sports ground events and corporate social responsibility. However, the ultimate objective of sports marketing is to achieve 1.8 million subscribers and increase average revenue per user (ARPU) still hasn’t reached yet. Therefore, in this study, we will also find ways on how Astro can achieve its target either by peer influence and freedom of choice in choosing the most updating sports content. As the sports pack is the most expensive pack among all packages available, the benefits that subscribers will gain from paying the fees to watch the best in the world sports will be determined throughout the research.
Ideal approach to pursuit the marketing strategies are important to win the heart of sports package subscribers. Among the all content packages offered by Astro including the basic pack, sports package is the most expensive of all. To retain the customers from reverting to original pack combo by withdrawing the sports package in Astro packs can be a major problem face by the organization as consumers want the best value for every cent paid to watch the best world’s sports on air. Therefore, Astro needs to give the best value and sport contents available that worth paying by consumers. Another problem faced is to ensure exclusivity of Astro sports pack from other competitors in broadcasting industry such as RTM and TV3. According to Simon (1992, p.6), he stated that organisations must be able to manage the integration of market and technology as equally driving forces. With the technology advancement, sports pack can be integrated into incredible pack that competitors doesn’t have such as watching sports game in high definition (HD) instead of standard definition (SD).
The internal factors that influence the successful of sports marketing program are also been questioned on the level of its effectiveness. Major challenges for managers according to Eleri R. Thorpe and Robert E.Morgan (2007) are on how manager direct the efforts of talented employees in given time frame and how manager guarantee that aims mission of intended marketing strategy is clearly understood by employees. As consumers not only looking forward for the international sports team, it is also another drawback because Astro needs to fulfil the local consumers’ taste by broadcasting local game on air in the sports package.
Different consumer has their own perceptions towards the need of subscribing to the Astro sports package. Through segmenting customers into geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioural attributes, it helps to identify potential market for up selling the sports pack. According to Helen Reijonen and Tommi Laukkanen (2009), the advancement in information technologies had enable enterprises to collect more and in-depth information about their customers and make it useful for strategic business purpose. Besides that, through consumers’ socialization, it is also will affect the acceptance of sports package regardless of gender and culture. In research conducted by Luiz Moutinhon and Pedro DionÄ±´sio and Carmo Leal (2008) in the process of socialization can be seen as a deliberated act of identity construction – the neophyte member begins to deliberately adopt mannerisms, attitudes, and styles of dress, speech, and behavior that he or she perceives to be characteristic of established members. Consumers also will be influenced with the brand image of TV broadcaster in order for them to decide whether to subscribe or not with the pack. Peter Drinkwater and Mark Uncles (2007) examined the impact of program brands on consumer evaluations of television and radio broadcaster brands and come out with finding stated that a successful program on a particular TV/radio station, consumers are likely to improve their perceptions of quality of the broadcaster. That is, the broadcaster brand image is likely to be enhanced.
Sports package offered by Astro is currently the premium pack that offers the best sports in the world. Thus, all the sports fans in Malaysia depending on level of income who don’t want to missed the live game broadcasted in sports channel will definitely subscribes to the sports package. According to Luiz Moutinhon and Pedro DionÄ±´sio and Carmo Leal (2008), in sports activities have always constituted an essential component of free time occupation TV in contemporary societies and in Europe, broadcasting and live attendance of sport games join together every year millions of supporters. The 2006 World Cup was seen in 154 countries by a total of 354,000 of million spectators. This showed that the sports game broadcasted in TV has its own superiority to attract more viewers to subscribe to Astro sports pack.
However, to retain the customer loyalty from withdrawing the sports pack, the important of ground events and corporate social responsibility needs to be done. In study done by Anne-Marie Hede examined how special events, such as sporting, cultural, political, historical, religious or commercial/business events, provide opportunities for attendees to have memorable experiences communities to build social capital and for governments to induce new income into their economies though increased tourism and business activities. She also point out that large events such as the Olympic Games can customize product features and develop selling techniques tailored to local customs and cultures.
Marketing strategies is the most important principle that needs to be determined to cater target market. With appropriate marketing mix 4P’s including product, price, place and promotion adapted; it helps to ensure success for sports marketing in pay TV industry. In research conducted by Anthony R. Bennet (1997), he stated that when organizations apply the marketing mix principle to market making, targeting the customer, it will involves giving value in relation to quality, value for money, reliability, product performance, cost effectiveness, fitness for purpose and so on. Water Wymer (2011) in his research Developing More Effective Social Marketing Strategies stated that social marketers have tended to limit their choice of set of social marketing strategies to various applications of 4P’s aiming to change individual behaviour and attitudes.
However, some barriers may arise that caused marketing strategy to fails. Another research conducted by Water Wymer (et.al) if the social marketing strategy fails to remove an environmental barrier, the social marketing program’s effectiveness will be lessened. In relation to this, Anthony R.Bennet (et.al) came out with a findings that channeling an organizational resources into the provision of products and services, it is argues that such strategic focus, on behalf of the organization concerned, will ultimately achieve the objectives set out.
Organizational marketing activities will be influenced through publicity and helps to enhance brand image. According to Harlam E.vSpotts and Marc G. Weinberger, both communications activities might play a central role in developing and shaping the corporate brand.
BENEFIT AND CAUSE-RELATED MARKETING EFFECTS
The first question that always lingers in customer’s mind is whether the money they are paying is worth the value they receive when subscribing to the premium sports pack. In study conducted by Rob Docters, Raul Katz, Jerry Bernstein and Bert Schefer (2010), customers must first learn about the product and service, use and appreciate the value and lastly reassessment the value and benefits they gained. This research also came out with findings that familiarity of products will lead to usage and enjoyment of product and service. Besides that, through enjoyment of usage, it will leads to higher utility and satisfaction.
Astro sports marketing team are also able to make customers to feel the enjoyment watching their favourite sports, favourite team and sports player. In addition to that, it seems that viewers are involving themselves directly with their favourite sports. According to Fadza Rasul, 24, from Ampang, as a diehard fan of Manchester United and also Astro sport’s pack subscriber’s, when the adrenaline rushes through his veins while watching his favourite team playing on TV live, it will give him the best feeling ever especially when his favourite team won the game. This kind of feeling will give him the satisfaction that he ever wanted.
Lastly, both subscribers and the sports marketing team are said to gain the emotional benefit as they are mutually beneficial to each other. In human nature, the most important factor on how they form a relationship is on how the services are relevant to the users’ lifestyle. From the subscribers’ perspective, as a sports fan, they will get the contentment by watching their favourite game live and enjoy it at home without any interruption. They pay for it, and they should get advantage from it. They will feel the sense of camaraderie when the organization able to reward them and make they feel belonging. As for example, when Astro organize the football viewing party to reward their loyal customers, those who are lucky will get the chance to watch the game at the private area, where foods and beverages are being served for free, and they also will stand a chance to win premium merchandises and also discount and rebate for their monthly subscription fee. By this mean, Astro also will feel the sense of belonging when they know they have their own loyal customers who never fail to give support to them, and interconnected as people, places, memorable experiences and brand identity.
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