Opportunity Knocks for Sports in India

14 May,2020

 

By A Correspondent

 

Vinit Karnik

GroupM’s ESP Properties released its ‘Business of Indian Sports Playbook’ in the backdrop of Covid-19. The playbook is a guide for multiple stakeholders like broadcasters, fans, sponsors, right holders, and the government, who play a vital part in the sporting ecosystem.

 

It notes that the sports sponsorship industry in India has been growing at a CAGR of 12.8 per cent over the last 10 years, with the overall sports sponsorship market in India crossing the mark of Rs 9,000 crore for the first time, highlighted the GroupM ESP report on the business of Indian Sports in the wake of the crisis.

 

Further, it states that mobile gaming will be the biggest gainer in the post Covid-19 era, with 20 per cent increase in the monthly active users during the lockdown in India, with daily average session going up to 45 minutes and frequency of these sessions increasing to 5-7 per day.

 

The report also states that the situation is an opportunity for sports in India. India is a sporting nation in the making with the sector showing strong growth in the last 6-7 years. At a world level, everything is a standstill. It therefore needs to focus on athletes and performance of sports and have a strong vision for 2024 and 2028 Olympics. Keeping the fans engaged is an important KPI for a rightsholder and  broadcaster.

 

Government partnerships in the sports realm are the need of the hour, it states. Government and sponsors have worked together as Public-Private-Partnerships.

 

Talent needs to make full use of the lockdown to enhance relationships with fans via social media. Live talent interaction on social media has caught the eyes of a large fanbase since the fans need to see some action happening between the talent instead of no-action. Gaming & virtual sports should definitely be in the consideration set for active fan engagement, it noted.

 

Here’s the executive summary:

 

Business of Indian Sports COVID-19 Outlook Context – Sports sponsorship industry in India has been growing at a healthy CAGR of 12.8% over the last 10 years, with overall Sports Sponsorship market in India crossing the mark of INR 9,000 Crore for the first time

1. 2020 was a year of Tokyo Olympics, T20 World Cup, Euro 2020 along with major tournaments like Vivo IPL. With most of the sports tournament either cancelled or indefinitely postponed, YOY growth / estimation for year 2020 pre COVID-19 will not hold true.

 

– While there are many speculations around Sports to be conducted for TV audience only with no fans or limited fans in the stadium, anything is a possibility at this point in time. But from an audience appetite standpoint, fans are hungry and waiting for live sports.

 

– Sports is a universal language that connects people regardless of their origin, background, religious beliefs, economic position. Sports brings us together. Once the dust around COVID-19 settles down, sports will play a pivotal role in helping fans deal with the emotional stress, post-pandemic trauma and give people at large reasons to look forward to.

 

– This situation is also an opportunity for sports in India. India is a sporting nation in the making with the sector showing strong growth in the last 6-7 years. At a world level, everything is a stand still. We need to focus on our athletes and performance of sports and have a strong vision for 2024 and 2028 Olympics.

 

– Mobile gaming will be the biggest gainers in the post COVID-19 era. We’ve already seen 20% increase in the monthly active users during the lockdown in India, with daily average session going up from 30 min. to 45 min. and frequency of these sessions increasing to 5-7 per day as against 3 sessions per day during pre COVID-19. Internationally, we’ve also witnessed rightsholders toying with gaming and virtual sports as a concept to keep athletes and fans engaged in the lockdown times (for example: UAE Tour launching cycling event namely ‘UAE Tour Mubadala Ramadan Virtual Challenge’ on virtual cycling platform Zwift). We see more of these pushing the envelope of virtual and real-world merger.

 

– In a parallel world, esports has been trying to emulate traditional sports for some time now to reach a larger and more mainstream audience. It had already become a billion-dollar industry pre-COVID pandemic with tournaments witnessing arenas filled with screaming fans and sponsors increasingly injecting monies in the ecosystem globally. With the lockdown in place and millions forced to stay at home; esports has shifted to online format filling up the void for many of the LIVE sports’ hungry fans worldwide.

 

Further breaking the playbook down, here are the key takeaways:

 

I. The post COVID-19 time is expected to define “new normalcy” which in turn will have a telling effect on all aspects of business including sports

 

II. Keeping the fans engaged is an important KPI for a rightsholder & broadcaster. The lockdown times could be a perfect opportunity for both to make heroes off their fans

 

III. Broadcasters should toy around with various non-live sport-ainment formats as the fan acceptability quotient is high right now. Innovative content formats need to be thought of between the talent and broadcaster to make the most out of a fan’s interest in some sporting action.

 

IV. Government partnerships in sports realm is the need of the hour. Government & sponsors have worked together beautifully as Public-Private-Partnerships. Post COVID-19 time will call for many such initiatives

 

V. Talent needs to make full use of the lockdown to enhance relationships with fans via social media. Live talent interaction on social media has caught the eyes of a large fanbase since the fans need to see some action happening between the talent instead of no-action. Gaming and virtual sports should definitely be in the consideration set for active fan engagement during current times taking a cue from how cricket world cup winner Ben Stokes engaged with his fans through F1 esports Vietnam Grand Prix.

 

 

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