Innovative content formats need to be thought of between the talent and broadcasters cohesively, according to GroupM’s ESP Properties’ Business of Indian Sports Playbook. The playbook highlights how with most of the sports tournament either cancelled or indefinitely postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the growth estimation for year 2020 pre COVID-19 does not hold true anymore.
The report reveals that broadcasters should venture into non-live sport-ainment formats as the fan acceptability quotient is high right now. Broadcasters should capitalise on fan’s need for new sporting action by conducting interviews-from-home and showcase match reruns with athletes from the game commentating on it. Furthermore, lack of LIVE sports could potentially push fans to relook at sports channel subscriptions during lockdown. “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,” the report stated.
As per the playbook, 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. The sporting leagues / events post COVID-19 is expected to be lot leaner and efficient from a sponsor perspective and it would be in the interest of an advertiser to stay invested in the medium to have first-mover advantage at the end of the tunnel. With fans at an all-time low in terms of live sports supply, sponsors can form the pipe to help fans engage with their favorite athletes, teams etc. and in the process be seen as the knight-in shining-armor by the fans.
The playbook also urges the government to form partnerships with the private sector in the sports realm. Initiatives like “Sangeet Setu” and “Hasya Setu” have been a great example of talent government partnership in the recent past.
Mobile gaming, on the other hand, emerges as the biggest gainers in the post COVID-19 era. The segment has already recorded a 20% increase in the monthly active users during the lockdown in India, with daily average sessions going up from 30 minutes to 45 minutes and frequency of these sessions increasing to 5-7 per day as against three sessions per day during pre COVID-19. Internationally, sports have already entered the gaming and virtual sports realm in order to keep athletes and fans engaged in the lockdown times. For instance, UAE Tour launched a cycling event namely ‘UAE Tour Mubadala Ramadan Virtual Challenge’ on virtual cycling platform Zwift. Hence, gaming and virtual sports should 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.
According to ESP Properties annual report on sports sponsorship ‘Sporting Nation in the Making’ 2020, sports sponsorship in India grew 17% to Rs 9,000 crore in 2019 with cricket dominating the sports advertising sector with on-ground sponsorship recording 25% growth to Rs 2,000 crore.