Shrijit Neogy Unveiling the Potential of Emerging Sports in India and Brand Engagement

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The sports landscape in India, traditionally overshadowed by the towering presence of cricket, is undergoing a transformative shift in recent times. While cricket continues to maintain its stronghold, a notable surge in football leagues has added diversity to the country’s sports narrative. What’s particularly striking is the dynamic change in audience preferences, with a discernible trend of younger demographics gravitating towards a broader spectrum of sports.

One significant milestone marking this evolution is the remarkable performance of Indian athletes at the 2023 Asian Games. India achieved an unprecedented haul of 107 medals, showcasing the prowess and potential of its sporting talent across various disciplines.

Today, we are diving into the evolving sports landscape in India and the burgeoning opportunities it presents for brands. Joining us is Shrijit Neogy, Business Head (Sports) at The Media Ant, who is a sports marketing expert with a keen eye on emerging sports trends.

Interviewer: Shrijit, let’s start with the changing dynamics in Indian sports. What are some of the emerging sports you believe hold substantial growth potential?

Shrijit: Absolutely, we’re witnessing a shift beyond cricket. Cricket has consistently being showing unprecedented growth trends (85% of Sports Revenue) but the other sports (15% of sports Revenue) which are expected to reach near this crowned jewel in India are :-  
Kabaddi (PKL) has grown 18X times as compared to Season 1 to season 9 with expected reach of 50 Mn this season, Upcoming Season 10 is expected to grow 1.3X from previous season. Because of the short format of the game(40 Min) ,viewer attention span is better than any other Sport for advertisers.

Football(ISL) is expected to reach 20-25Mn, and is the 5th most popular league in terms of viewers, generating revenue of 500Cr in 2022.
Badminton, Wrestling, Tennis, Volleyball is also gaining popularity amongst the Indian audience.

Interviewer: That’s fascinating. With this surge in emerging sports, what opportunities do you see for brands aiming to enter the sponsorship and endorsement space?

Shrijit: The opportunities are vast. Firstly, association with popular leagues and teams provides brands with visibility and engagement. Athlete endorsements create a personal connection with audiences. Event sponsorship offers exposure during key sporting moments. Additionally, digital and social media activations tap into the online audience. Brands can also explore CSR initiatives related to sports, aligning with societal causes.

Interviewer: Interesting avenues indeed. Moving on, could you share some success stories where brands effectively engaged with emerging sports in India?

Shrijit: Certainly. HERO MotoCorp’s title sponsorship of the Indian Super League has been mutually beneficial, gaining significant visibility for the brand. Similarly, Vivo’s association with the Indian Premier League has been a success story, leveraging the immense popularity of cricket. Puma’s involvement in Indian football and Tata Motors supporting Indian wrestling through the Wrestling Federation of India are noteworthy examples of brands making impactful contributions. 

Interviewer: Those are compelling examples. Looking ahead, are there any trends or predictions you foresee regarding emerging sports and brands’ involvement in India?

Shrijit: Looking into the future, we can anticipate a deeper integration of technology in sports marketing, creating innovative fan experiences. Virtual and augmented reality could revolutionize how fans engage with sports content. Furthermore, personalized and data-driven strategies will likely dominate, ensuring that brands connect with audiences on a more individual level. As emerging sports continue to captivate audiences, brands will need to adapt swiftly to stay ahead of the game.

Interviewer: Thank you, Shrijit, for shedding light on the exciting landscape of emerging sports in India and the myriad possibilities it opens up for brands. We appreciate your insights and we hope advertisers will benefit from this as well.

Shrijit: My pleasure. It’s an exciting time for sports enthusiasts and brands alike, and I’m eager to see how this dynamic landscape unfolds. Thank you for having me.

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Shrobana Rakshit

A passionate writer and feminist, who believes in the power of words to challenge social norms, break barriers and inspire change. With scattered thoughts on window panes I'm in constant need of coffee and fresh nutrition for my brain (I'm a book-butterfly indeed). When I ain't lost in the world of words, I find solace in the art of dance, where movement becomes my muse.

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