The sports sector in India has witnessed several recent developments, which have contributed to its significant growth. Although cricket continues to be the leading sport in the country, other sports have also gathered sizeable interest over the past few years. Establishment of new leagues in football, hockey and less established sports such as kabaddiis are changing the face of Indian sports: players are getting a global stage to showcase their talent and viewers are getting the opportunity to get more involved in their favorite sports.
India has evolved from a single sport nation to a multi-sport country. However, to further improve sports participation, there is a need to build a culture of sports in the country through better infrastructure, increased corporate investments and promotion by the Government. This will help unlock the untapped business potential of sports across the fields of marketing/sponsorship, sports management, sports goods and apparel, sports infrastructure and sports tourism.
One such league currently making its mark in India at the moment is the Indian Super League (ISL) for football. Although the game was always popular across certain regions and pockets of society, the league has given it mainstream attention. For instance, the AIFF has established a Strategic Plan for the next 3 years
ALL INDIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION STRATEGIC PLAN 2019- 2022:
1. Competition-oriented development
2. Pursue excellence
3. Go local (capacity building at state associations)
4. More opportunities for women
5. Infrastructure and legacy (including mega events)
6. Broad-basing the game
7. Use of technology to fast-track growth
Besides, with increasing smartphone penetration and falling data tariffs, online consumption of sports content is on the rise in India. Growing online viewership indicates the sense of comfort that users have with the digital medium. Online viewers are no longer a small, niche category.
Digital consumption has also been instrumental in driving fan engagement in new age sports properties. Sports properties are connecting with their audiences online, and this consumer database on digital will be key to connect with the audience for further downstream ancillary revenues (digital fan memorabilia, loyalty program, contests/polls etc.)
Government initiatives to make India a sporting superpower will not be realized without professionals operating within the domestic sports industry. This is also the case for the growing football industry in the country.
The U-17 World Cup has raised attention to the sport and its potential. The football industry in India has tremendous business potential, especially in the fields of marketing, broadcasting, and sponsorship. But, structural changes are needed to disseminate its potential.
A change of mind set and focus on grassroots and youth development are the most important challenges. The most important element for developing a culture of sports in India is a change in the mindset of Indian parents who typically discourage their children from spending too much time on sports.
This article was written by Matías Canil from the marketing department at the Sports Business Institute Barcelona. For more information please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org