Current ODI world champions, numero uno in Test cricket and former T20 champions. “Cricket in India is more than a religion”, is the new mantra.
Sunil Chhetri, an Indian footballer, recently played alongside names such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry in the Major League Soccer (MLS) for Kansas City. This achievement along with India’s qualification for the 2011 edition of the Asian Football Cup, shows that India is making strides in world football (albeit tiny strides).
Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandok and Force India are on their way to becoming household names. A little over a decade ago, Formula 1 as a sport wasn’t a household name, let alone drivers and teams. Now India boasts of two drivers, a team and a grand prix (India will host its first race in October).
Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman, are adding to Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati’s achievements across the tennis arena to make sure India has at least a couple of representatives in the second week of a tennis grand slam.
Shiv Kapur and Arjun Atwal are embedding their names into the minds of golf fans worldwide. Atwal became the first Indian to win at the US PGA Tour when he won the title in 2010.
Indian boxers like Vijender Singh and Akhil Kumar, alongwith shooters like Abhinav Bindra and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, all medalists at the Olympics, are proving a point that Indian sports is developing and is on a high.
1. Advertisers, marketers and big brands have always been aware about sports power. Now, somewhat belatedly, channels are standing up and taking cognisance. Major players in the sports channels field, Star, Zee and Neo, are all launching ‘a single-sport centric channel’.
2. NEO Sports Broadcast launched NEO Cricket in 2005, the first 24-hour cricket channel in India. ESPN-Star followed this with the launch of Star Cricket in 2007. Zee acquired Taj TV, which owned Ten Sports. On cue, they followed the acquisition by launching their own cricket channel, Ten Cricket.
Commenting on the opportunity provided by a cricket channel, Prasana Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports, said, “In spite of cricket being the most followed sport in India, there was no specific channel that catered to the ardent fan. Neo tapped the opportunity and launched a dedicated channel that provided a complete 360-degree product offering to the viewer. Live matches coupled with daily cricket programming in a manner that is informational and memorable ensured there was significant traction on a regular basis. ”
3. Following the launch of their cricket channel Ten Cricket, Zee launched India’s first 24-hour football channel, Ten Action+ in 2010. The channel broadcasts the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa Cup, Italian league, German League and a few of India’s national team matches. Following the launch of their cricket and football centric channels, Zee is soon going to launch India’s first golf channel, Ten Golf.
Atul Pande, chief executive officer, Ten Sports, said, “We believe that it is a niche high-value audience which will subscribe to this channel – India today has 2,50,000 golfers,. The number of golfers is expected to double in the next three years. Such numbers gives us a dedicated platform to sell high-value lifestyle products, generate specific advertiser interest and generate monetised subscription revenue models.”
4. With the introduction of these channels, one thing is for certain, sports in India is on the rise. Advertisers are continuing to back (and endorse) sports whole-heartedly. Ten Golf, a channel that is soon to go on air, has already brought in high-value brands. According to Pande, luxury brands have expressed their willingness to advertise on the channel. He said, "We will be looking to attract top brands on Ten Golf. Rolex has committed and we do expect one or two luxury car brands to follow suit. We will be attracting luxury apparel wear brands along with a few other high-value products on this channel."
Luxury brands have given a single sport centric channels, thumbs up. Now we do.
What it means for...
Smaller target group to aim at
For some sports, like golf and football, audiences bias towards younger male.
Many Single-sport centric channels should be able to attract upmarket brands-including cars and apparel-for whom GEC are insufficiently targeted
No sporting event is missed, as two major sporting events running simultaneously can be run on two separate channels
With dedicated shows for a particular sport, the viewer gets more in-depth news views and knowledge about a sport