Sanjay Gupta, managing director, Star India said that the sports industry in India had a potential to touch $10 billion over the next five to seven years.
Addressing the CII Scorecard event, Gupta said that both grassroots sports and cricket was witnessing an upsurge."The sports industry has grown from $1.3 bn to $2.7 bn in just a matter of five years. And in my mind, this journey has only begun. Sports is still at 0.1% share of our GDP, while globally the industry is sized at ~0.5% of GDP share. Given where we are, we have the momentum to become a $10 bn industry in the next 5 to 7 years," he said.
Throwing in some more statistics, he pointed out that over 70 crore fans came in to enjoy IPL. "Compare this to the number of people who voted in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the biggest elections that India has even seen -- 55 crore. And they all spent a lot more time, glued to their television sets or mobile screens, enjoying this spectacle. Such a growth in an established sport like cricket is truly remarkable," Gupta said.
He added that a lot of sporting talent was uncovered in 2018 from Rishabh Pant, Mayank Markande and Shubman Gill in Cricket to Manika Batra in Table Tennis, Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw, Manu Bhaker in shooting, Vikas Krishan in boxing, and of course, Hima Das who recently got India the first gold in a global track event.
"The most powerful takeout from this has been the change in narrative around sports. The achievement of these young heroes has forced our society to sit up and take note of the power of sports," said Gupta adding that children were increasingly getting support from not just their families, but also from teachers, schools and the society at large.
While sports is good for society, private enterprise has proven that sports is good for business as well, he continued. Over the last few years, activity around the business of sports has been tremendous. From just 2 leagues, five years back, there are now over 15 domestic leagues in the country across kabaddi, football, wrestling, boxing, badminton.
"They have overcome all roadblocks of infrastructure and training, put in staggering sums of money and collaborated. In many instances they created a whole new set of entities to build viable and scalable business models. All these leagues have all managed to find a place for themselves," said Gupta adding that consumers are watching them in their homes on TV or on their mobile phones on their daily commute. Brands are coming in, starting to ascribe real value to the impact that sport delivers by putting in sponsorship money, he said, citing the value of IPL, that is estimated to be valued at $5.3 bn today.
Even the sports start-up ecosystem is buzzing with activity. Entrepreneurs are building business models across the breadth and depth of sports – from eduSports that enables schools to adopt sports education, Anthill Creations that creates cost effective play areas in unused spaces, ‘Sports For All’ to GoSporto that gives people access to playgrounds around them.
He admitted that while sports is set to become an integral part of education, the requisite infrastructure, tools and trainers are still lacking. He said that a study had unveiled that to implement this for every child, the investment required is a mere Rs 500 every year. "Such a small intervention can provide all the support needed for a child to play."
But to make this real for all 30 crore Indian children, the quantum of investment needed is dramatic. "I believe that we are at a sweet spot to make this happen. Large corporates today are investing a significant part of their profits towards CSR activities, of which sports promotion is also a part. This provides a great platform for brands to engage and invest in building sport."
The overall contribution towards CSR is close to $1.8 bn or INR 12,000 cr every year. "Even if we invest half this fund towards building this infrastructure and capabilities, we will be able to touch 12 crore children in the first year itself. Over the next few years, we will be able to reach out to every single kid in the country. It can truly catapult sports to another orbit," said Gupta.