When it comes to cricket in India, very few can remain immune to the euphoria that takes over the country when the men in blue win. And if cricket has all along been a religion in India, the advent of Indian Premier League (IPL), the Twenty20 money-spinning brainchild of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), promoted it to cult status. Clearly, cricket is not just a game for us; it is a part of our daily life and daily conversations, and in all probability will continue to stay so. However, unlike the past, it is not just cricket anymore. There is growing evidence that even as the love for this game remains, one’s (read brands and audiences) fondness for non-cricket sports is also witnessing a northward swing. Experts note that while cricket currently commands a major share of the annual R4,000 crore sports advertising and pay TV pie, the share for non-cricket sports is growing at a rate of 20% year-on-year.
Says a top industry executive who did not want to be named, “In 2006, non-cricket formats were worth less that R250 crore. Today, that has grown to about R700 crore.”
Earlier in a conversation with Brandwagon, Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer, Star India had remarked that while everyone in this industry believes that India is a single sport country, this is only half the truth. “Even for a big match where India plays arch rival Pakistan, consumers do not view the entire match, they view only 15% of the match on an average,” he said.
And that’s why last year, Star India took an important decision to not just look at cricket but beyond it to establish itself as India’s leading sports broadcaster. It invested a billion dollars into sports in less than six months last year; and while a major chuck of that investment went into cricket, it also launched a new domestic league in university hockey and renewed its broadcast rights to the English Premier League tournament for $145 million. For the record, Star India paid BCCI around $770 million to secure the media rights to all international cricket matches played between 2012 and 2018 in India and for domestic tournaments such as the Ranji Trophy.
There are primarily two kinds of opportunities that non-cricket formats exhibit. First, through the creation of domestic leagues which is still a new