New Delhi: After cricket, soccer may be the next big-ticket game for Indian companies looking at brand associations with sports and sport stars. According to industry experts present at a sports marketing summit in the capital, Indians tend to react better to mass or team sports. “Mass sports or collective sports tend to involve Indians more than individual-based games like tennis and boxing. There is a rising interest in other games apart from cricket and soccer is something I see doing well,” says Ambika Srivastava, CEO of Zenith OptiMedia, a media planning and buying company.
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But other games are catching on. Sports apparel and footwear seller Reebok says that cricket is the game that sells the most goods for them, but there is a rising interest in other games. “Mass games like cricket and soccer do better in India. We do sell some jerseys with the name of international footballers. With the recent success at the Olympics, interest in other games has definitely risen. I would put my money on soccer and tennis apart from cricket,” says Subhinder Singh Prem, CEO of Reebok India.
However, before soccer becomes comes up big, there are a number of challenges to contend with. It is mostly a chicken and egg situation for the game. Media sponsors come when they are sure that a match or event will provide the necessary eyeballs. But for a sport to become big and get media coverage, one needs the sponsors. And in India, big money is still betting on cricket. So the question of getting money into the system remains unsolved.
For instance, Indian Premier League (IPL) that promoted the T20 cricket, succeeded despite many challenges. But its CEO Sundar Raman says that the format only succeeded because the underlying game was cricket.” IPL succeed because cricket ensured the necessary audience. The challenge before other games (for trying out similar commercial experiments) are very different,” says Sundar Raman.