The panel at FICCI Frames discussed whether sports as a genre has enough prospects to become a successful entertainment format in India
The speakers included Ajay Jadeja, cricketer and sports analyst; Lalit Modi, vice-president, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI); Ayaz Memon, editor at large, DNA; Peter Hutton, senior vice-president, programming and production, Ten Sports; and Thomas Hoehn, economics partner, PwC, UK. The session was moderated by Sonali Chander, sports editor, NDTV.
Ayaz Memon cited the example of Britain and said that the number of sports channels in that country has risen to a total of 38 from the time when, in 1992, Sky Sports was the only dominant channel. In India also, the number of channels has risen to a total of eight in the last five years. He said media is changing the face of commerce in sports and providing healthy opportunities for all athletes. The 360 degree communication woven around a game, such as blogs, websites and newsroom discussions, have taken it to a completely different level of entertainment. Other sports such as hockey, volleyball, table tennis and tennis have not grown as considerably as cricket, but their scope has been growing year on year.
Memon explained how sports alone as a medium has the potential of raising huge money for broadcasters because of its entertainment value. He gave the example of the English Premier League (EPL), which has earned revenue of US$3.6 billion since its inception in 1992. During the telecast of the US Super-ball recently, the ad rates went up to US$2.7 million for a 30 second spot.
Citing another example, he said NBC in the US paid US$306 million to buy the telecast rights for the Winter Olympics in 2006. The channel paid another US$100 million during the coverage. In return, the network was able to earn total revenue of US$900 million.
Lalit Modi was hopeful that the star studded multimillion dollar IPL would become an example of the biggest reality show in the country. The BCCI has specifically chosen the prime time segment to telecast the matches in the country. Modi said most homes in India are single TV homes. The saas-bahu serials have been having a ball because of the lack of choice. He said he believed in the potential of sports as an entertainment genre and its capability to give a tough run to the saas-bahu serials for TRPs and money during prime time.
The panel said that with modern sporting formats, marketers would have more flexibility to reach out to audiences in many different ways. This will include lots of on-ground activities during and before the telecast of the matches, apart from the conventional 360 degree advertising communication. Jadeja said one such example could be Shah Rukh Khan becoming the 12th man in his IPL team and running into the field during every break with a different sponsor logo on his T-shirt.