The Business of Professional Sports



PODCAST NOTES:


Key Takeaways


The total size of the sports industry in India is around 3-4 billion USD. It amounts to 0.1-0.2 % of GDP while this number is 0.5-0.7% for western countries.


Consumption of sports content is growing rapidly yet it is only in 4 per cent of total TV consumption, elsewhere it is near 10 per cent.


Sport is a huge ecosystem and you can participate in one of the following ways (list not exhaustive):


  1. Working with a sports federation

  2. Work in sports broadcasting

  3. Become a franchise owner in a sport

  4. Work in sports talent management

  5. Work in sports technology

  6. Work in event management/sponsorship

  7. Coaching and sports talent rearing



India needs to have a 20-30 year plan to do well in the Olympics while focussing on sports it does well already (like archery, athletics).


Major ways technology can impact sports:

  1. improve efficiency and coverage (broadcasting technology)

  2. Improve engagement and create new experiences (Dream 11)


Sports leagues will start from geographical areas where engagement is high and slowly spread from there.


Fans today have greater access to their sporting heroes and that makes a huge cultural impact.


COVID19 has enabled companies to see value in old content seen via new lense.




Intro


Guest: Gautam Thakkar, CEO – Star Sports. Has 25 years of experience in digital and offline businesses. Has a vast previous history at the intersection of media/consumer/experience-oriented businesses before coming to STAR.


Host: Roshan Cariappa, BharatVaarta podcast



Nuances of the sports industry


The total size of the sports industry in India is around 3-4 billion USD and growing rapidly. It amounts to 0.1-0.2 % of GDP while this number is 0.5-0.7% for western countries. Consumption of sports content is growing yet it is only in 4 per cent of total TV consumption, elsewhere it is near 10 per cent.


The ecosystem of spots industry can be summarised as:

  1. Working with a sports federation

  2. Work in sports broadcasting

  3. Become a franchise owner in a sport

  4. Work in sports talent management

  5. Work in sports technology

  6. Work in event management/sponsorship

  7. Coaching and sports talent rearing


As an entrepreneur working with sports, one has to optimise both for impact and wealth.


Sport is a source for national pride but at the same time keeps our young people busy in creative activities, hence reducing their involvement in other activities that might harm them.


Entrepreneurs should not just look at success stories like IPL. Such success at that scale is rare and will not work for every sport.


Entrepreneurs need to create sustainable business models. Many sports are hot in niches, so must be careful in starting with those areas.



Sports leagues and evolution


IPL is huge, but both ISL (Indian Super League) and PKL (Pro Kabbadi League) are now 5-6 years old and have grown strongly in pockets.


ISL gets 180-200 million viewers in India while Premier League gets only a small fraction of that viewership. So we should not underestimate domestic leagues.


Pro Kabbadi is watched by 330 million people and is popular because of its strong roots in some geographies.


Sports grow with athletes who become household names and old rivalries. Some sports and athletes have a natural capacity (Kohli), others less so.


Three factors are important for the growth of a sport - geography, rivalries and star athletes.


Social media takes fans near sports stars and that has massive cultural impact.



Possible India’s Olympics Plan


In the past for India, sports were not a priority only survival was a priority. Now, this is not the case.


Government has put a lot of work in improving Olympics performance and has formulated clear goals. Ministry has created target based frameworks.


We should focus on:

  1. Sports infrastructure

  2. Talent finding and scouting

  3. Nutrition

  4. High-quality coaching


We should focus on sports facilities to be available at a community level.


Khelo India is definitely a good step forward in terms of identifying talent. Monetary rewards encourage kids and parents to focus on sports.


The smart way to do well at the Olympics is focused on our strong areas such as archery, wrestling, etc and works towards a 20-30 year vision.



Technology in Sports


Major ways technology can impact sports:

1. improve efficiency and coverage (broadcasting technology)

2. Improve engagement and create new experiences (Dream 11)


OTT needs great technology but it can also enable great experiences.


Data and camera angels can help the viewers to participate in the sports experience.


OTT is not cannibalising TV. India is mostly a single TV household country and hence mobile phone live streaming of sports has created greater access to the sport.

OTT enables is multilinear sports watching experience which is scalable and many more innovations can happen on top of it.



COVID19 and learnings from it


STAR is using the lockdown to innovate. We experimented with replacing old commentary from 2007 t20 world cup with commentaries with cricketers who were playing in the match.


STAR also created other experiences such as Sachin’s birthday week.


STAR is now curating old content to fit new contexts, but we are aware of the fact that the engagement of live games is better.


Spending more time with kids and family is a joy. Everyone should look forward to doing more of it.


The productivity gains from discipline are large, meetings are now focussed and smaller and we will also save more time.



Rapid Fire Questions


Fav sport: Cricket now Kabaddi

Sports film: Chakk De

Sports heroes: John McEnroe, Rahul Dravid

Books on sports: Dravid’s Autobiography, Aggasi’s Open

Star sports programme:Cricket: The Dugout, Funday

Kabbadi: Akshay Kumar commentary, commentary by famous people











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