MUMBAI: Sports broadcasters could end up earning advertising revenue of Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion) in 2016, according to industry estimates. Leading the growth would be the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Twenty20 World Cup. There is also the Euro 2016 later in the year.
Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) president Rohit Gupta said that three big properties would drive revenues this year. “You have the Twenty20 World Cup, the IPL and Euro 2016 which kicks off next month. After FIFA World Cup, the next biggest soccer property is Euro. Sports is relatively small compared to other parts of the world, but brands are now betting money on sports properties. Clearly, things are on the upswing.” The IPL, he claims, has seen a 20% revenue growth. “Then there is Euro 2016, which is huge. We have already roped in sponsors. Soccer is becoming bigger in the country. I think the genre might grow by 20–25%. The IPL made Rs 12 billion. Everything sold out so far. Cricket is very big especially in the T20 format.”
Gupta is also positive on the growth of the NBA and UFC but added that these are smaller properties that will take a couple of years to become more substantial. “Leagues in non-cricket sports don’t drive much revenue,” he clarified. According to Gupta, the struggle in terms of revenue growth lies in the older cricket formats. “There the rates have not been able to go up compared to T20. The ODI ratings have held steady and haven’t grown over the past couple of years,” he said. The youth follow sport in a big way. They are a very fragmented audience that cannot be caught in many places except for sports, Gupta added. Sport is an important element for any brand that wants to connect to the youth. “While you can use news channels to catch upper male audiences, 65% of the population is below 35. Sport becomes an important aspect for any brand that wants to create an association with them. All the major categories, whether telecom or auto, are associated with sports,” he said. Gupta also feels that the dependence on cricket is reducing as other sports grow. “I think cricket takes around 85% of the pie.” Star Sports is expected to have earned advertising revenue of Rs 300-350 crore from the T20 World Cup.
Dentsu Aegis CEO Ashish Bhasin expects an ad growth of 10% for the sports TV genre. Cricket will continue to make 90% of this amount, he said. The IPL will make a little more than 40% of cricket’s ad pie.
“Anyone who wants to establish national coverage has to look at cricket. Last year, we saw e-commerce get very active. This year, we have seen the mobile category get active on the major events like the IPL, with brands like Oppo and Vivo making their presence felt. When you want to reach people in a high-impact manner, cricket is a strong platform.
“While there were a lot of events, the delivery was as per expectation. While cricket has traditionally had a male skew, when it came to advertisers the IPL has changed things. Since it is entertainment and has star value, glamour women also tune in,” he said.
In terms of non-cricket properties, Bhasin noted that while some of these properties are making a dent, they would not be as big. “We have seen events come and go. The IBL went and has come back.”
For the record, this will again be a strong year for Star Sports. It had many events at the start of the year including the Twenty20 World Cup. Towards the end of the year, it will air two home series against England and New Zealand. Last year Star Sports had aired the 50-over World Cup.
India is scheduled to tour the West Indies for four Test matches, the rights of which are with Ten Sports. An announcement has also been made that India would tour Zimbabwe for a three ODI and three T20 match series. The telecast rights for these matches are also with Ten Sports.
In terms of non-cricket leagues, the PKL is going from strength to strength and has outperformed what was expected earlier prior to its launch. It will now have two seasons and so more revenue will come here for Star Sports.