Leagues to see big growth for sports in 2014

05 Mar,2014

Source - GroupM ESP


By A Correspondent


Well, India has just been knocked out of the ongoing Asia Cup tournament, thanks to a Shahid Afridi batting blitzkrieg that saw Pakistan nail hosts Bangladesh to make it to the finals. One would put the blame squarely on the Indian squad that failed to perform as a unit when it mattered the most. In fact, the men in blue may have given the media and critics another opportunity to go heavy on them after a spate of poor performances outside the continent including their recent Series loss to South Africa and New Zealand. But does this failure imply that sunny days for the sport in India may all but be over and that the popularity and revenues that it managed to rake until now could see a downward slide from here on?


A report by GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of marketing services major Group M and sports business information resource SportzPower, may all but rubbish the above claim as it predicts that the best days are yet to come for the sport in India. In fact, the report goes on to add that a few more sports – as upcoming and promising as cricket – would be changing the sports dynamics in a country that has just about started to harness the benefits that non-cricket sports have to offer.


The report notes that the sports marketing spends grew about 92 percent in the period between 2008-2013 reporting figures of Rs 41.1 billion in 2013 from the Rs 21.39 billion amount that was recorded in 2008.


The report is the first of its kind in India that documents important events during these eventful years, including the emergence of league-format sports in India like the Indian Premier League (IPL), Hockey India League (HIL), and Indian Badminton League (IBL). To increase its utility to Rights Owners, Advertisers and Agencies, the report has been divided into four segments – On Ground Sponsorship, Team Sponsorship, Athlete Management and On Air.


Elaborating on the future of sports marketing in India, CVL Srinivas, CEO, Group M, South Asia says, “This decade will be transformational for sports in India with a spectator base of over a billion people, a dozen sports television channels beaming content round the clock and a rapidly growing list of keen corporates and brands waiting to invest in cricket and other alternate sports. The next few years marketing investment in sports will no longer be peripheral, and it will be paralleled with that of entertainment and mainstream cinema.”


Rise of non-cricket sports

The report notes that while cricket will continue to remain popular, in the next few years the market is going to grow exponentially, with other sports complementing the cricket story. The report notes that the real opportunity lies in the number 2, 3, 4, 5… sports that are often under-leveraged and under-monetized, which otherwise have a sizeable target audience juicy enough for brands to associate with.


It should serve as a wake-up call for all stakeholders in the sports sector that in the six-year time frame that the study covers, the highest share of On Ground revenue cricket has commanded in percentage terms was in 2009 – all of 79 per cent. And the lowest was just 52 per cent in 2010, which was also the year when New Delhi hosted the Commonwealth Games.


The report notes that On Ground sponsorship has a direct linkage to stadium attendance. And therefore reflects active fan engagement. What this shows is that in the IPL era, it takes an event the size of the Commonwealth Games to significantly shift the needle. But that is not to say that the ground is not shifting as far as other sports are concerned. In 2012, the share of non-cricket On Ground sponsorship stood at 34.5 per cent, dipping to 32.8 per cent in 2013, ironically a year that saw the launch of two new IPL-style tournaments – the Hockey India League as well as the Indian Badminton League


According to the study, football remains the problem child of Indian sport. There is a huge underlying potential here that is yet to translate into deliveries. What is clear though is that if and when football makes that big leap forward, its rise will be phenomenal. Proof of that is provided by the impact delivered by one-off events like the Argentina vs Venezuela friendly in 2011, which saw the world’s best player Lionel Messi strutting his stuff at the hallowed Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata before an adoring and star-struck audience. Another being the Audi Football Summit played in January 2012 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi between the Indian national team and German giants FC Bayern Munich.


It is also a telling indictment of the people who administer the world’s most popular game that a niche sport like Golf and a mass participation one like the Marathon, both of which are presumed to be TV unfriendly, garner far higher numbers than football!


Between 2008 and 2013, while On Ground sponsorship in football went up from Rs 85 million to Rs 142 million, in Marathons it rose from Rs 285 million to 420 million. Football clearly has a way to go before it can deliver numbers anywhere close to Distance Running in India, let alone Cricket. But at least it can lay claim to a steady, though extremely poor, increase year-on-year in the period under review.


Not so golf, the report states. From Rs 327 million in 2008, after hitting a high of Rs 375 million in 2012, it was down to Rs 280 million in 2013 and will fall even further in 2014. Two of the three biggest professional golf events in India (Indian Open is the biggest) – Avantha Masters, and Gujarat Kensville Challenge – have been discontinued and will not be held this year onwards.


Media dominance to continue…

The report further notes that sports television broadcasting will continue to be dominated by cricket in the foreseeable future contributing about 80-85 per cent of sports media revenues. But the other sports such as football, hockey, badminton, motorsports, etc are also expected to perform well and bring good revenues to broadcasters.


According to Thomas Abraham, co-founder, SportzPower, Indian sports TV broadcast was, is, and will continue to be dominated by cricket for the foreseeable future, contributing to 80 to 85 per cent of the total television sports media revenues. “However, other sports are also gaining prominence, especially Football, though interest remains predominantly for international leagues/tournaments,” he said.


All in all, the report notes that 2014 has more upsides than down. While there will be no Indian Grand Prix next year, there will be more leagues where sports like basketball are making rapid strides, and the whole wellness and  fitness movement gaining ever increasing traction, which in turn means more interest in sport as a participation activity and not just as spectator engagement.


Emphasizing on the key developments expected in 2014, Vinit Karnik, National Director, Sports & Live Events, GroupM ESP said: “Even though the IPL is off to a rough start this year, in the long run, accountability, better corporate governance, more transparency, are all good for not just the IPL, but the BCCI too. The successful launch of the hockey and badminton leagues has set the stage for an action-packed 2014 as far as franchise-based leagues are concerned in cricket, football, hockey, badminton, tennis, wrestling and kabaddi.”


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.