Mumbai: The Indian sports sector is undergoing a sea change, with an increase in viewership, sponsorship and participation in sports other than cricket, a report said.
The Business of Sports report from consulting firm KPMG and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), released on Wednesday, said that in 2015, the sports sponsorship market grew approximately 12% from a year ago to reach Rs5,190 crore.
The sports sponsorship market includes team sponsorship, ground sponsorship, franchise fee, endorsements and on-air sponsorship. Of this, on-air sponsorships accounted for 52%, fuelled largely by new formats such as the Pro Kabaddi League and the Indian Super League. Ground sponsorships, too, registered a healthy rise on the back of these new sports leagues.
“The last five to seven years have been the most dynamic for the sports industry in India with some fundamental changes. Sports not only provides an active branding and marketing opportunity to investors, but has also created value for fans all across. Addition of various sporting leagues in India has invited tremendous support and presence of corporate sector,” Shrinivas Dempo, chairman of the CII summit on Business of Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement.
While leagues came to India late, they have made up rapidly; out of the 11 operational leagues, nine were launched during 2013-16. Two more are planned for this year.
Televised sports viewership grew 30% between 2014 and 2015, said the report. Regional games packaged for urban viewers and in league formats attracted rural viewership.
“High levels of interest in rural areas is indicative of the latent potential in rural sports offering. Further, broadcasters’ strategy to woo rural viewership by presenting predominantly rural sports such as kabaddi and wrestling with an urban packaging has succeeded in popularizing these sports in urban areas as well,” explained Jaideep Ghosh, partner and head, transport, leisure and sports at KPMG India.
According to data from the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, rural contribution to the number of impressions was as high 45% in the sports genre. Season two of the Indian Super League football, for instance, which has teams owned by celebrities such as Ranbir Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham, garnered 47% of its viewership from rural areas.
Women too have fuelled sports viewership growth. In 2016, 41% of the audience watching the 9th season of the IPL was female. In 2015, 39% of the Pro Kabaddi League viewers were female while 38% of the viewers watching the International Premier Tennis League in 2014 were women. For the Indian Super League in 2014, women and children accounted for 57% of the television audience pulled in.
“There has been an upsurge in global female viewership for sports events. In India too, sports viewership is no longer male-dominated, as women comprise a significant portion of the viewership pie. Teams, sports associations and brands are cognisant of the rising female viewership, which is expected to gain more traction going forward,” said Ghosh of KPMG India.
The online sports audience has expanded too, fuelled by better mobile and internet connections and affordable data plans. The online option gives viewers the flexibility of time and space.
“A young digital audience, and rapidly increasing smartphone and internet penetration is driving the growth in online consumption of sports content in India. 60% of the digital audience in India is within the age group of 13–35 years, which is also the primary target audience for short-format sports,” said Ghosh. Star India has tapped into these audiences with its online platform Hotstar.
“The country’s sports sector is going through a significant transition. In February 2016, the government accorded an industry status to sports infrastructure which is expected to attract investments from the private sector, thereby not limiting its role to just corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and non-profit organisations,” said Ghosh.