By Jai Lala
2014 has undoubtedly been a great year for sports in India. It has also opened up new avenues for the broadcasting and advertising community. With India making a foray into league sports, and games other than cricket making a mark, one can look forward to exciting times in 2015 for the sports broadcasting industry.
The ten trends to watch out for are:
- From a single sports country to a multi-sport country: We are witnessing sports boom in India. Hockey, Badminton, Kabaddi, Tennis are seeing reach like never before. Albeit it is still small compared to cricket, but it is still growing and we are seeing growing interest from advertisers and viewers alike.
- TV+ Digital, the lines are blurring: World Cup had more than 25 million views on digital. IPL is slated to surpass that in the 2015 season. Is it just catch up TV or is it individual viewing only time will tell but currently the lines are blurring. World Cup on starsports.com was sponsored by the biggest names in cricket advertising. Hero, Vodafone, Pepsi were all sponsors of the previous edition of World Cup 2011 but in 2015 have moved from TV to digital
- Pay per view can it be a reality: With the acquisition cost of sports growing and advertising yield at a matured level, subscription seems to be the only resolve. Increased digital penetration as well as viewing pay per view is not far ·
- Sports viewing is more ‘Lean Forward’ than ‘Lean Back’: The passion & the interest which evokes on sports can be “heard” on social media. Ball by ball commentary, opinions and even backlash is growing on social media.
- Sports & Mobile: With the mobile penetration in excess of 900 million coupled with multi-screen viewing, there is a huge opportunity for advertisers to cash in. Heineken ran a contest on mobile which can only be answered by watching the live UEFA match on TV. No other sport lends itself to interactivity more than cricket
- Split beam: India being a diverse regional market with large linguistic preference, networks are offering feeds in regional languages. This will grow further with split beams leading to ad-versioning & even regional advertisers getting a slice of the pie
- Rural: Radio is the only means for the rural audiences but with growing mobile penetration and DTH, this could add on to the experience especially for updates & other opportunities
- Sports programming: In the US, ESPN Sports Centre is one of the most viewed programmes and it does not relay live telecast. Though in India non-live programming is only one-seventh of live telecast, the positive thing is that it is growing.
- Extra coverage for the passionate viewer: Cameras on umpires helmets to players helmets. View from the slip cordon to chatting with players during live match. We shall see more & more of this
- Revival of Print: Print in its traditional sense has seen challenges on sports coverage. Sportstar is nearly dead and many more such sports magazines. Blogging is reviving it. Can digital print revive the coverage.
(Jai Lala Managing Partner, Trading and Partnerships, Central Trading Group, GroupM)