India embraces more sports as World Cup spurs 2014 TV ad growth

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 16 April 2015

India's sports industry recorded 10% growth in 2014, with the FIFA World Cup a major factor in the increase in TV spends in a country that is finally beginning to embrace sports other than cricket.

A report from GroupM ESP and SportzPower suggests the overall sports industry in India is worth INR48,069 million in 2015, up from INR43,725 million in 2013.

The country's No 1 sport, cricket, saw a dip in on-ground and team sponsorship in 2014 – primarily due to fewer games being played – however, the overall rise is accounted for by the emergence of new sporting leagues: the Indian Super League, Pro Kabaddi League, World Kabaddi League, Champions Tennis League and Indian Premiere Tennis League.

"Other sports are emerging gradually with the onset of many new league-styled sport events. Even though FIFA was a big factor in the increase in TV spends in 2014, cricket yet dominated Indian sports TV broadcasting with back to back cricketing sports tournaments like the World Cup and IPL, although there was a rise in viewership of other sports too," said Thomas Abraham, co-founder, SportzPower.

GroupM ESP national director, sports & live events, Vinit Karnik, added: "From a single sports country to a multi-sport country, India is witnessing a boom, which will benefit the sports business ecosystem. In 2015, we predict to see a change in the way consumers interact in the realm of sports and entertainment."

Digital developments, in particular social media, are helping build a fan following for the new leagues much faster than was previously possible, the report says.

In addition, the increasing trend of broadcasters to offer feeds in multiple languages is helping feed India's diverse regional market, and tailor sports content to a greater audience. This trend is expected to grow further with split beams leading to ad-versioning with even regional advertisers getting a slice of the pie.

The report also suggests the lines are now blurring between online streaming and traditional broadcast. The ICC Cricket World Cup had more than 25 million views on digital platforms and the new season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is slated to surpass that figure.

Going forward, non-cricket sports are likely to expand India's sports business ecosystem, with live match content repurposed in multiple ways to facilitate social consumption, believes GroupM ESP and SportzPower.