India is on the move

Sports in India is on the move, but it needs to be a movement. We want the kids of this nation to come out and play, and make India a true sports superpower.

Research states that only 40% boys and 31% girls play in urban India every day, and most children play for less than 20 minutes every week.

Through the power of television, we are inspiring a new generation to play by nurturing the development of regional sports and cultivating new role models. We believe in India’s new #KheloIndia movement that wants to build a nation that’s a sports superpower.

Changing mindset is key

The biggest hurdle we have to overcome today is the regressive mindset of our society’s outlook towards sports – that sports are a waste of time and an interference in academics. The root cause is that our education system dubs sports as “extracurricular”, a euphemism for dispensable activity.

"There is a dire need for young, private enterprise to again come together and rally behind this one cause. Believe me, we are not being held back by infrastructure or facilities or training – only by our own imagination," says Sanjay Gupta.

This is a mindset that has been shaped over many decades. It will take nothing short of a movement to change it.

We want young India to come out and play

With each passing season, as kabaddi rises as the country’s second sport, the key is to foster the talent pool by providing training and opportunities to play. To foster talent in sport means to start at the grassroots level – at the school level.

It is only when kids experience a sport by playing will they truly know the excitement of the game.

In 2015, we introduced KBD Juniors Tournament in 5 cities – in Delhi, Jaipur, Gujarat, Hyderabad and Nagpur so that kids (under 17) could play the sport and learn more about kabaddi in its new stadium format. The Delhi KBD Stars tournament received a historic 3x growth in participation of zonal games as 13,000 students from 70 constituencies participated. At the Gujarat Khel Mahakumbh, 4,500-odd kids participated, and at the Jaipur Khel Mahakumbh, we saw a participation from 5,500-odd kids.

We also took Pro Kabaddi League to business schools in order to create aspiration and thought leadership around the sport, and we introduced it at inter-collegiate sports events such as IIM Sangharsh. 

The success of a sport is visible when you start seeing people playing it. Playing a sport creates an intangible affinity with a sport. The team at Star Sports has witnessed this rise across urban India. They believe a few residential complexes in Mumbai have converted their old volleyball courts into kabaddi courts; in Mumbai in Shivaji Park, and in Delhi, near the lawns of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, you can see a lot of kids playing kabaddi today.

In 2015, we introduced KBDY Juniors Tournament in 5 cities – in Delhi, Jaipur, Gujarat, Hyderabad and Nagpur so that kids (under 17) could play the sport and learn more about kabaddi in its new stadium format.
The success of a sport is visible when you start seeing people playing it.
“That is the power of sport – to inspire, to unite, to teach as nothing else possibly can. This is the power we need to unleash upon the kids of this country. We need to get 30 crore kids to play for at least an hour every day!”
Sanjay Gupta, Managing Director, Star India

New role models

The last few years, we have seen strong icons emerging across sports in India, and the Rio Olympics 2016 put several non-cricket sports on the map. We are living in the era of a Kohli, a Sindhu, a Nitin Tomar, a Dipa Karmakar, a Srikanth Kidambi. They are today actively choosing to take up sport as a serious profession, inspiring millions more kids out there.

At Star, we are on a mission to make India a multi-sports nation by introducing the nation to sports other than cricket, such as football, badminton and table tennis, along with regional sports.

In 2014, we took the decisive step to resurrect and repackage India’s village game, kabaddi with Pro Kabaddi League, encouraged the game of football with a local league, Indian Super League in 2015. This year, we broadcasted the inaugural edition of a table tennis league (Ultimate Table Tennis) in India on Star Sports Select. The league saw a mix of Indian and international table tennis players, and fans saw the Olympic sport’s fast-paced action and skill in a new light.

“If you were at the Kochi stadium last year for the ISL final, you could experience this new excitement first hand. The 60,000 strong stadium was packed. And at one point in the match, when a local boy scored a goal, there was so much excitement that the entire stadium started shaking! I faced such a surreal experience myself during the first season of the Hockey India league. I was at Ranchi for the final, and imagine my surprise when I found that a stadium capacity of 7,000 wasn’t enough for the crowd that had gathered to watch the match. They had to actually hire a 15,000 strong football stadium next door at the last minute and put up screens there to accommodate everyone,” says Sanjay Gupta, Managing Director, Star India.

At Star, we are on a mission to make India a multi-sports nation by introducing the nation to sports other than cricket, such as football, badminton and table tennis, along with regional sports.

Bridging the gender gap in sports

The past year has seen female athletes in India challenge the status quo and old adages such as “Girls can’t wrestle”.

This has given us a lot of hope. And we have usurped this opportunity to stand behind these new torchbearers of sport in India to help them succeed. When our viewers say, “We miss seeing female sports icons on television,” we are listening.

Watching female icons play can have an impressionable impact on young females and encourage them to pick up sport. This year, for the ICC Women’s World Cup, we planned a powerful hero-building campaign that celebrated our women’s cricket team as heroes. We wanted to create an equal playing field for women’s cricket and men’s cricket in India by raising enough awareness for the tournament. 

In 2013, nobody wanted to watch women’s cricket, and this year the excitement over the Women’s World Cup can be seen in the numbers.

This year, for the ICC Women’s World Cup, we planned a powerful hero-building campaign that celebrated our women’s cricket team as heroes.
“There is clear evidence of an inflection point in Women’s sports viewership. As per the BARC report, the nail-biting final played on July 23 saw an average viewership of 19.6 million. Overall, the viewership of the match was at a record high of 126 million, equivalent to the number of people who saw the IPL finale this year. The entire World Cup tournament recorded a viewership of 156 million, which means that every fifth Indian who watches TV watches the matches. This is not just about empowering women through sport. It’s about empowering sports through women.”
Gayatri Yadav, Head and President – Consumer Strategy and Innovation, Star India

To tackle the cultural bias and to change perceptions we ran a special International Women’s Day campaign, #CheckOutMyGame.

 

Watching female icons play can have an impressionable impact on young females and encourage them to pick up sport.

Research tells us that female athletes score higher in academics, are happier, have higher self-esteem, and are at a lower risk of depression. But most importantly sports gives you confidence and teaches you how to deal with success, failure, hurdles, gives you resilience and leads to leadership. In fact, 91% C-suite women across the world are known to have played some sport in school.

Sports for all

By 2014, after launching Mauka Mauka, IPL and PKL, sports viewership in Hindi speaking markets was growing strong. Now, it was time to take this same language of play beyond Hindi speaking markets. After surveying several regional languages, Tamil came out as the most-appreciated language in south India.

In June 2017, we launched Star Sports Tamil with the “Son of the soil” campaign to take the language of play beyond Hindi speaking markets.

So, this year during the Champions Trophy in June 2017, we launched Star Sports Tamil with a “Son of the soil” campaign.

The channel hit the No. 2 spot in the state in its fourth week.

Our next question was how we should grow our sports viewership across the country – as we noticed that TV viewership had been growing but not sports viewership.

On July 21 2017, during Women’s World Cup, we launched our first Free-To-Air Hindi sports channel with Hindi commentary, Star Sports First. It quickly became the no. 1 channel on the list.

“This (FTA) consumer population is relatively under represented and underserved where sports content is concerned making do with highlights and limited live content. SS First, a pioneering effort, will open the gates to full spectrum, quality content. We are confident this shall whet the appetite and bring them to the sports core in due time.”
Shubhranshu Singh, Executive Vice President - Marketing, Star Sports

Now, the next step is to strategize deeper regionalization content – local sports leagues and exclusive content to expose the possibilities in sport, and to inspire a new generation of sports enthusiasts.

The games have only just begun.

Imagine more
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