‘Consumer spend on sports will go up in 5-7 years’

Swetha Kannan Chennai | Updated on January 02, 2013 Published on January 02, 2013


Playing sports here is like listening to good music or watching a good movie. But…spend on sports is not even in single digits.

In developed countries, people spend over 10 per cent of their earnings on sports-related activities. This is still a far cry in India, but a significant part of the Indian population will actively engage in sports in the coming years, says Ashu Jindal, Chief Operating Officer, IMG Reliance, the joint venture that develops and promotes sports properties in the country.

Sports is a big part of people’s lifestyle in Europe and America — be it watching matches, enrolling children in training clinics or buying sports merchandise, says Jindal, in the city for the Aircel Chennai Open.

“Playing sports here is like listening to good music or watching a good movie. But in India, consumer spend on sports is not even in single digits. But we see it growing in 5-7 years, driven by the next generation which believes sports helps create better individuals.”

Lifestyle choice

Sports is increasingly becoming a part of Indians’ lifestyle; properties such as IPL and Chennai Open have contributed to this, says Jindal. He believes the Chennai Open has not only become a part of the Chennai culture but is also followed keenly in other Indian cities.

The only ATP tennis tournament in South-East Asia, the ongoing Chennai Open is in its 18{+t}{+h} edition.

“We have always tried to take the tournament to the next level each year and engage with fans more,” says Jindal. The Chennai Open is being streamed live on YouTube. IMG Reliance has also launched a mobile app for schedules, statistics and live videos, besides contests on Facebook and Twitter.

There was a contest on Facebook to pick an enthusiastic fan to intern with the organisers and learn how the tournament works behind the scenes. The winner is a 40-year-old woman, a chartered accountant by profession.

Players are being roped in for children’s clinics and fun events such as meet-and-greet, fashion shows, cooking and bartending. Rado, Marks & Spencer and Tata Water Plus are the new sponsors this year. Long-term partners include FedEx, Vijayshanti, Ricoh, Volvo and title sponsor Aircel.

“Overall sponsorship has increased from last year. The Tamil Nadu Government has also increased its contribution from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore.”

The Tamil Nadu Tennis Association is striving to keep the tournament in Chennai (the contract expires this year). But there are strong contenders from Shenzhen and Istanbul too.

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Published on January 02, 2013
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