PodcastsSports Business Updates

Sports Business Newscast Ep.35

The nexus between Sports and Business.

Our first update is from the ongoing ICC Men’s World Cup in India. As you all know Cricket is the biggest participation and viewership-based sport in India and the World Cup is the biggest Cricketing spectacle and it’s come to India after many years. Considering its comeback after many years and India’s amazing start to the World Cup has led to some incredible viewership statistics. I have five really impressive statistics to share as of Monday 23rd October 2023.

  • Star Sports has reported that the 2023 World Cup has clocked more than 59 billion minutes of watch time, a growth of 22% compared to the 2019 edition. 
  • Consumption among premium audiences witnessed remarkable growth with audiences in National Consumer Classification System A witnessing a growth of 40% and National Consumer Classification System B growing by 24%. 
  • Live broadcast for the first 11 matches of the tournament has been watched by 268 million viewers with 96 million young working professionals (aged 22-40) tuning in, which is 5% higher than the 2019 edition. 
  • The peak live concurrency for the tournament is 56 million viewers, registered during the India v Australia match in Chennai on October 8.
  • The India versus Pakistan match on October 14 recorded 3.5 crore viewers on Disney Hotstar, surpassing the global streaming milestone of 3.2 crore viewers, which was recorded during the finale between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans in the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

On the advertising front, the growth has been unprecedented with a 28% growth in average ad. Volumes per match with 40+ new categories of advertisers and 150+ new brands have advertised during the first 15 matches of the World Cup compared to 23 to the same number of matches televised in 2019.

We have a long way to go with the World Cup and in the coming weeks, I will share some more mind-boggling statistics with each week.

Moving from one Cricket update to another….

The second update is about a piece of history that was created last week. Last week it was announced at the 141st IOC session which was held in Mumbai that Cricket was inducted as a new sport at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic games!

Cricket will be making its debut in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics alongside Baseball/Softball, Lacrosse, Squash and flag football.

But what does that mean for the sport in India? 

Since we have heard so much about the first point of impact being broadcast rights, let’s start there – There is a strong possibility that the Olympic broadcast rights in India for LA2028 could go up 10x from the current reported £15.6 million ($20 million) to £150 million. That would be a significant ramp-up of the IOC’s revenues as broadcasting rights form the lion’s share of its overall revenue. 

Higher viewership – Here’s a fact to think about – The opening week of the Tokyo Olympics, the period that included Neeraj Chopra’s gold-winning javelin throw, saw a viewership of 69 million on linear TV, according to BARC data. In comparison, a cricket match between India and Pakistan gets around double the viewers. Now, you add Cricket to the Olympics and by default, the viewership will increase multiple folds which will then lead to healthy advertising revenues for the rights holders.

Indian Sponsors – Higher viewership from the subcontinent might also facilitate the IOC to ink a TOP sponsorship agreement with a leading Indian corporation. TOP (The Olympic Partners), which is the IOC’s highest level of Olympic sponsorship awarding category-exclusive marketing rights. Anne-Sophie Voumard, managing director of IOC’s Television And Marketing Services, the commercial arm, had earlier told Forbes India that she is very confident that we’re going to soon see the first Indian company joining the programme.

The timing for the alignment of Cricket as an Olympic sport has been immaculate. Announced in India during the ICC Mens World Cup in India but it’s not a hidden secret that Casey Wasserman, Chairman, LA2028 was impressed with the Indian Premier League and has also been witnessing the growth of Cricket in the USA with Indian IPL franchise owners expanding their franchises in the Major League Cricket.

This is a major milestone for Cricket globally and also a fair shot to display Cricket with proper competition unlike the only game of Cricket that was played between Great Britain and France with Great Britain winning the Gold at the Olympics in the year 1900. 

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third update and this one is about the impact of MotoGp in India. So, September 2023 was a very significant month in the history of sports in India with the inaugural Bharat MotoGP finally becoming a reality. But how was the event a hit or a miss in the world’s largest motorcycle market?

Here’s an interesting fact – India accounts for 40% of all global sales of motorcycles worldwide. So, an Indian MotoGP was something that was bound to happen at some point. 

With almost all the bike brands participating in the MotoGP available in India for a few years now, why did it take so long for MotoGP to come to India, to understand that, let’s go back a few years when Formula 1 ran three races in India at the Buddh International circuit. The F1 race got mired in various issues, starting from the way the contracts were done between F1 and the Indian promoter’s attempts to reduce tax outflow. Customs clearance for bringing the cars and parts to taxation when motorsports were not even considered a sport and were instead classified as entertainment. So, due to the taxation and political issues F1 race stopped in India after 3 successful seasons.

Coming back to the MotoGP – finally, it was a relief to Indian motorsport enthusiasts that motorsports were back on Indian tracks.

Enter FairStreetSports Pvt. Ltd. the organisers of the MotoGP Bharat led by Pushkar Nath Srivastava, the founder and COO committed to investing INR 250 Cr towards the event. FairStreet Sports raised $10M from institutional investors and the rest of the investment was done organically. 

The investment comprises a wide range of aspects, such as securing event rights, organizing it and marketing expenditures. A significant part of the funds—around ₹150 crore—is for organizing the event.

According to the Economic Times, the state government of Uttar Pradesh (The MotoGP host state) has registered business worth INR 930 Crore from the racing event.

However, the organisers have a lot of work to do with marketing and promoting the event in the future considering the attendance for the races was abysmal. The venue has a total capacity of 110,000 but the confirmed weekend attendance was 111,762 with 18,000 people attending the Friday session, 35,381 attending the Saturday session and  58,605 attending the Sunday session officially making the Indian Gran Prix this season’s lowest attended race!

Dorna has signed a seven-year deal with FairStreet Sports Pvt. Ltd and I am sure there is a lot of learnings from the first ever MotoGP in India and there is a lot of scope for improvement for the track, organisers, and the government from a logistical and marketing point of view to make the future MotoGP experience better.

And this week’s fourth and final update is from the USA where NBC is playing a high-stakes gamble on monetizing the High school and amateur sports sector.

Just to give you all a perspective – the size of the global youth sports market is $37 billion (USD) and almost 60 million American kids are actively involved is some sort of sports program.

The team at NBC has identified a major gap in the sector and they have decided to take the plunge and create a money-making opportunity out of it.

So, what they have done is start a service called “NBC SportsEngine play”. To sum up the service in one sentence, they are creating a hybrid model of YouTube meets part ESPN meets part Master Class series.

NBC intends to create a set up of 90 cameras across 85 venues all over the USA and create live streaming/broadcast for High School sports.

The sports they will cover across high schools all over the country include Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Volleyball, Soccer and Lacrosse; plus more targeted spots like Cheerleading, Dancing, Figure Skating, Gymnastics and Martial Arts.

NBC aim to reach 30 thousand youth sports organizations with their dedicated application services that will comprise of three tiers of offerings:

Tier 1 – Free to view live streams

Tier 2 – Free to view live streams, on-demand content, and options to edit and create highlights.

Tier 3 -All of Tier 1 and 2 plus instruction videos, pro-athlete guides, professional content (Master Classes) from ex-athletes like Michael Phelps, Maria Sharapova, Shaun White and much more and coverage of amateur sports competitions.

In terms of pricing – Tier 1 content is free whereas Tier 2 will cost $9.99/ month or $79.99 /year.

Personally, I feel this is a very calculated gamble and if the price point is maintained at the current offer this concept has the feet to grow and be replicated in other global markets. This is a win-win for all stakeholders. From a technology perspective, NBC already has topnotch facilities and equipment, from a school perspective, if there is some sort of a revenue share deal they can benefit from it and for the kids and parents this can be a great opportunity to train and improve with highlights, analysis and carry the form into college sports and take advantage of the NIL deals that can be made available at an early stage for kids who excel in their respective sports thus opening up early careers in sports and more reliance on monetary earnings much earlier than college sports. 

Personally, I would be all in for something like this if it were to happen in India. Something interesting for Sports For All to study and implement for their initiative across schools in India, maybe?

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.