Sports rights business has nearly doubled over last six years

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on November 12, 2019

Representational image (file photo)   -  Business Wire India

Corporates can no longer overlook sports’ huge business opportunity

Sports is big business. It is all about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles and experiencing athletic achievement, but it is also about money.

Given that the market for sports rights has nearly doubled over the last six years, from $20 billion in 2012 to $38 billion last year, the scale and size of viewership not just for cricket but for other sports like the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the English Premier League (EPL) and others is a huge opportunity that corporates can no longer ignore.

Take Reliance Industries for instance. Looking to further the appeal of Jio, its telecom business, Reliance Industries is eyeing potential sports streaming rights and has set its sights on the EPL football games.

Addressing the Sports Business Summit in London last month, Nita Ambani, owner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians, spoke about the country's evolving sports ecosystem and the growth opportunities for international sports, even as she elaborated on her interest in bagging the digital rights of some of the games to be shown in India.

The company is in the midst of conducting a market study and is seeking a potential boost for its mobile and broadband business from varied sporting events.

Over 800 million Indians consumed sports on television alone in 2018. Globally, television broadcasters and online streamers are estimated to have forked out 26 per cent of their total content spend on sports rights, leading to the market for sports rights nearly doubling over the last six years to $38 billion, according to research from Ampere Analysis, an analytics firm.

Sports advertising grows to Rs 7,762 crore

Despite the size of the sports rights market and ongoing pressure from online video platforms, Ampere says there is still room for growth in the sector, with some sports gaining more traction by striking distribution deals with broadcasters as well as over-the-top (OTT) content distributors.

The US remains the single, largest market for sports rights, with $19 billion annual spend, a figure likely to jump as new rights cycles kick in for the NFL, MLB and later the NBA.

In India too, another massive increment is predicted for the IPL, when the sponsorship rights are up for grabs in 2022.

An official of ESP properties, the entertainment and sports division of GroupM notes sports sponsorship in India recorded healthy growth of 12 per cent in 2018, with sports advertising growing to Rs 7,762 crore.

Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties said there is bound to be a significant rise in sports leagues and tournaments "since IPL has inspired other sports leagues. From IPL team sponsorship seeing a growth of 20 per cent and Kabaddi registering a growth of 31 per cent, sports sponsorship has got a massive boost."

Emerging sports also recorded positive growth signals, said the official, with the Hero Indian Super League growing into a strong property with a calendar spread over six months, while Kabbadi registered a growth of 31 per cent over the previous year in on-ground sponsorship.

The Odisha government announcing a five-year deal with Hockey India for junior and senior men and women teams further cemented this sentiment, as did Tata Motors coming on board as principal sponsor of Indian wrestling in the non-cricket team sponsorship.

IPL logs 7% growth in value terms

Cricket, however, takes the cake. The sixth edition of Duff & Phelps' annual IPL study shows an increase of 7 per cent in the overall value of the IPL ecosystem, from $6.3 billion (Rs 41,800 crore) in 2018 to $6.8 billion (Rs 47,500 crore) in 2019.

An increase of 20 per cent in advertising revenues this year and the recently renewed PayTM title sponsorship deal, which fetched an increase of 58 per cent on a per-match basis over the last deal, were also testaments to the continued popularity of IPL.

Moreover, apart from BCCI, everyone in the ecosystem including broadcasters appear to be profiting, with Star TV’s advertising revenues from IPL reportedly growing by 20 per cent last year, despite 2019 being the World Cup year. Online streamer Hotstar broke its own record recording 12.7 million viewers in a league match, and 18.6 million for the finals.

IPL teams have been urged to reference popular English Premier League clubs, "who have set a benchmark on monetising their brands by engaging their billion-plus fan base across the world" using various innovative marketing and brand building techniques.

Published on November 12, 2019

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