The business of sports is scoring big | The Financial Express

The business of sports is scoring big

While spectators pay to enter the ground and watch the event as it happens, advertisers are willing to sponsor live broadcasts and reach their target groups across geographies.

The business of sports is scoring big
Ventures such as the ISL, IPL and Pro Kabaddi League have generated huge commercial interest for players, teams and managements. (Pic Credit: IE)

By Shashank Mishra

The idea of sport in India invokes deep passion, both amongst sportspersons and spectators. It is one activity that is agnostic to caste, creed or community. It has the power to arouse national fervour and bring millions of people on a common platform with a common goal. 

There was a time — in the not-so-distant past — when games were played in the spirit of peaceful competition without any monetary stakes. That is changing now. With the arrival of high-quality live broadcasting through globally linked networks, many more people can watch live events and this came as a bonanza to advertisers. While spectators pay to enter the ground and watch the event as it happens, advertisers are willing to sponsor live broadcasts and reach their target groups across geographies. This is transforming Indian sport. 

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Ventures such as the ISL, IPL and Pro Kabaddi League have generated huge commercial interest for players, teams and managements. It was once believed that cricket is the only sport that will take centrestage in India. But initiatives like the Pro Kabaddi League that bring professionalism into traditional sports have given the vast sporting community something to cheer beyond cricket. This shows that the sports business has a bright future in India. 

Schools are encouraging children to take to sport and are a good hunting ground for raw talent. The search for talent has even gone to the hinterland. Advertisers can now reach eager new audiences who will still find novelty in mature brands. The rapid growth of the Indian sports industry has created opportunities for a variety of sports start-ups. Clubs are willing to sign on top players for previously unheard-of amounts of money. They are able to do it because their earnings through victorious tournaments far surpass the investment they make. 

Reports say that the size of the Indian sports media market itself was $1 billion in 2020. Along with related sectors such as nutrition, equipment, apparel, medical services etc., the market size of the Indian sports sector was $27 billion. This figure is likely to reach $100 billion by 2027. With strong encouragement from the Government that has propelled our sportsmen and women to achieve fame in the international arena, sponsorships are on the rise and the industry is projected to grow exponentially. Many sportspersons are supported by sponsors who in turn get a chance at brand building through the excellence displayed by the player.

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Globally, sport is one of the largest industries in terms of revenue and employment. Now that life is returning to normal after the CoViD pandemic, sporting events are filling annual calendars and stadium seats are beginning to be sold out well before the event. Broadcasters are vying with each other to gain television rights, and sponsors are queuing up to be associated with high-profile events. Markets for data analytics, statistics and immersive technologies are seeing a bright future in sport. 

The sports industry is driven by consumers. Most teams and sponsors target young audiences. There is an entire allied market of products and services that this group is attracted to. Hence even items like soft drinks, junk food, fashion accessories and trendy vehicles find traction for their business growth through the sports segment. 

And let us not forget the sportspersons, who are at the centre of it all. They make huge investments in training, trainers, assistants, kits, medical fitness, nutritional requirements, and even sports psychologists. Youngsters are now taking to sport without hesitation and are daring to dream of becoming top level champions. They are getting the same level of encouragement from their guardians and mentors, as was once reserved only for academic excellence. Today, success is not defined only in terms of academics. Sport has become a major attraction and is a driving force for young people to strive for a place at the top. With a large number of sponsors willing to come forward to support them, Indian sport is truly on a roll. 

(The author is founder and CEO, Sportsapp. Views expressed are personal)

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