Sports in India are more than just games! From cricket’s religious fervor to the rising waves of football, kabaddi, and more, India’s passion for sports is indescribable in words! The sports media continues to feed Indians with high-definition sport experience adapting itself to the latest trends, patterns, and technologies. This blog takes you on a interesting journey through the ever-evolving landscape of India’s sports media industry.
Join us as we dive into the trends that shape the way we consume and celebrate sports, the market overview of the sports media, factors that drive the growth of the sports media industry in the digital age, the revenue streams that are and can be leveraged, and the potential market opportunities that can be tapped in by the new players in the industry and the existing giants!
Top 5 Sports Loved by most Indians
Just as the diverse culture and tradition of India, India boasts a unique blend of fan-following for various sports too. But as anyone could guess it straight, cricket has been and continues to remain the most loved sport of the nation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular sports in India, each garnering significant viewership.
Cricket: IPL’s Explosive Charm
In India, cricket is not just a sport; it’s a religion! The Indian Premier League (IPL) matches record more than 600 million views cumulatively every year. With per-match viewership soaring as high as 30 million, IPL has carved a special place in the hearts of cricket enthusiasts. IPL 2023 registered 50.5 crore viewers on Disney Star, the television broadcaster of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023. On the other hand, JioCinema ticked a massive 44.9 crore viewers — the highest(3.2 crore) recorded during the IPL 2023 Final match between CSK vs GT.
Kabaddi: A Traditional Sport’s Modern Twist
The revamped version of the traditional Kabaddi sport, Pro Kabaddi League has managed to capture the attention of millions of Indians. With around 450 million viewers tuning in, Kabaddi has rekindled the nation’s love for this native sport. Its fast-paced action, intense strategy, and a blend of tradition and modernity have elevated kabaddi’s viewership.
Football: Kicking Up a Storm
The Indian Super League (ISL) gathers around 400 million viewers, showcasing the nation’s growing appetite for football. Additionally, the FIFA World Cup 2022 drew a staggering 110 million viewers on the JioCinema app, showcasing India’s love for this fast-paced game.
Tennis: The Grand Slam Fever
Major tennis tournaments like Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open, and the US Open have been steadily gaining popularity among Indians and the Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms are driving their viewership. These tournaments have witnessed a 3x to 5X spike in viewership indicating the growing popularity of the sport in India.
Hockey: Regaining the Lost Glory
Once hailed as the national sport of India, hockey’s charm had indeed waned over the years.However, this historical sport is getting back its glory and this substantiated with the viewership stats. The Hockey India League (HIL) attracts around 40 million viewers per year!
How are Indians Watching their Favorite Sport
In the realm of digitalization, the conventional sports news channels that once played the monopoly game in serving the people with live matches, match analysis, and highlights have started to see a considerable slowdown in viewership. 75% of sports enthusiasts have said that they use social media as their primary platform for watching sports videos. 66% of individuals opt for TV broadcasts, while 41% turn to Over-The-Top (OTT) channels for their sports fix. An interesting study also revealed that of 68% of people who consume sports through sports websites and OTT apps, only 17% watch sports on computers. On the contrary, 68% of people turned to their mobile phones to watch sports news and live games.
This data clearly gives us an insight into the diversified avenues for sports consumption and the changing behaviors and preferences of Indian sports fans.
Sports Media Overview
Over recent years, the trajectory of sports viewership has been on an upward trend. This growth is propelled by smartphones and the expansive reach of the internet. This dynamic duo has disrupted the sports media industry and has transformed how audiences engage with sports content.
Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms have paved the way for the accessibility of international sporting events for Indian fans. As a result, sports media consumption in India is witnessing an unprecedented surge from every corner of the nation.
Behind the scenes, the realm of sports sponsorship is undergoing a metamorphosis of its own. The emergence of new media outlets and assets has spurred an exponential rise in sports sponsorships. In a captivating turn of events, sponsorships now contribute a staggering 33% of total revenue for leagues and franchisees. This symbiotic relationship between sponsorship and media outlets has cemented a financial stronghold within the industry.
Notably, a significant shift in the landscape of sports sponsorship is also evident.Legacy corporations that once held the sponsorship scepter are witnessing an ascension of technology startups. 8 out of the 20 most valuable venture capital-backed companies have ventured into sports sponsorships and media investments.
Undoubtedly, the torch is being passed from traditional powerhouses to the disruptors.
How Big is the Sports Media Industry in India?
The sports media market in India stands at approximately $800 million. Annual ad expenditures across print, digital, and TV reach $500 million, while sponsorship investments total $220 million. Cricket dominates, contributing a substantial 87% to this pie, with football and kabaddi adding another 10%. In this dynamic landscape, sports play a pivotal role, and the figures illuminate the unwavering passion and economic force driving the nation’s sports media sector.
Factors Fueling the Sports Media Growth in India
The sports media industry in India is currently undergoing a positive transformation and the following are the set of potential growth drivers that are reshaping the landscape. These growth drivers are propelling the recent surge which is helping the Indian sports media to explore into uncharted territories.
The Indian sports media industry is witnessing an increasing viewership across a spectrum of sports like Kabadi, Tennis, Hockey and Football along with Cricket. The increased viewership in turn has resulted in better sponsorship and participation. While cricket still remains a favorite among Indians, statistics clearly show that other sports are gaining ground in India.
A remarkable shift is seen in the female viewership and currently women account for about 40% of the sports media audience. This also reflects a progressive shift in societal norms where women have a prominent voice in the sports media landscape.
The emergence of sports startups and influencers spanning around content creation on the sport, teams, post match analysis, media platforms, and fantasy leagues is fuelling a positive energy into the sector. These startups infuse innovation, technology, and unique engagement strategies, fostering a thriving industry environment.
The fantasy leagues of today have reshaped the game plan, made it more interesting, competitive and engaging, and are breathing new life into sports media. These leagues are undeniably catalyzing a surge in viewership and engagement across multiple sports from the gloriful cricket to the humble hockey.
Over-The-Top (OTT) mobile apps and the boom of high-speed Internet have emerged as game-changers in terms of sports media viewership and public engagement; thus extending the industry’s reach and impact in India. The convenience of accessing live matches, highlights, and exclusive content on the go has revolutionized how viewers engage with sports media.
These drivers are setting the course for the sports media industry’s trajectory, igniting growth, innovation, and inclusivity. As viewership diversifies, startups flourish, and leagues gain momentum, the industry’s evolution into a dynamic, technology-driven future is predictable and the trend is welcoming.
Revenue Streams for the Indian Sports Media Industry
The playbook of the Indian sports media industry is being rewritten. Let’s delve into the dynamic streams of sports media revenue now!
Most Indian sports media websites rely on ad revenues from advertising program like Google Adsense for websites and Admob for mobile applications.The ad revenue for Indian sports news websites is estimated to be $35,000 per year for 1 million monthly website visits and the CPM is estimated to be $3 for advertising on sports news websites. While facing stiff competition for readership, the Indian sports media considers these metrics to be low with the international standards. The industry has also vented out disappointments with the decline in ad revenue after Google started displaying the searched information such as live scores right on the search page results by pulling it from the website. This actually reduces the number of clicks to the actual website and hence the ad revenue drops.
News websites have found a solid footing in the current era of mobile app subscriptions. With annual fees ranging from a modest $7 to $35, they’ve managed to attract a good share of the audience. In 2018, less than 0.25% of online news consumers subscribed to the apps and websites. However, to be on the breakeven and sustain long-term, at least 10–20% of the app/website users need to become paid subscribers.
For sports aficionados seeking exclusive and ad-free content, subscription plans through mobile apps have become the answer. Take Cricbuzz, for example, offering an annual subscription at just INR 399 . a Fantasy Handbook of player matchups data, venue details, player stats and many others, Cricbuzz Originals which promises ultimate entertainment for cricket lovers with an exclusive lineup of shows, News which gives access to 100+ exclusive articles, interviews and inside stories, and a an ad-free experience on Cricbuzz except within live broadcasts. The strategy hinges on providing an experience that transcends the norm.
Future Trend Analysis
The revenue models of the Indian sports media industry that once seemed fixed are now fluid — adapting to the digital age and the discerning demands of today’s audience. The horizon is bright with opportunities. The young guns (16–34 age group) are more amenable to paying for sports content. They’re ready to invest in nearly three entertainment services and four news services. Subscription-based podcasts, micro-payments, and immersive experiences are ripe for experimentation.
Opportunities to Capitalize on
With the rise of Over-The-Top (OTT) media, two captivating opportunities stand out ahead of the sports media industry — car racing and basketball. Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” and “The Last Dance” have thrust these sports into the spotlight in India and garnered substantial viewerships in the country.
As the Indian teams place a strong footing worldwide in sports like kabaddi, these traditional sports are also gaining momentum and content platforms providing dedicated content can become trailblazers in that particular sport.
The arena of regional leagues, particularly in cricket, is a battlefield of competition, yet it remains obscured from the limelight. Websites focused on amplifying these regional leagues and generating tailored content have the potential to amass their own devoted following.
A multi-channel approach is the key — from bite-sized social media content to in-depth articles and engaging videos. Moreover, fans today crave an intimate connection with sports stars beyond the field, devouring stories about their lives, relationships, and style. As the lines blur between athletes and icons, captivating content takes center stage, weaving narratives that bridge the gap between the game and its stars.
As sports continue to captivate the hearts of millions across India, the realm of sports media consumption is set to soar to new heights. With digital innovation, immersive experiences, and the nation’s unwavering passion fueling its growth, the future of the sports media industry in India is anticipated to shine brighter than ever before.
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