The current season of the Indian Premier League has generated over Rs 1,300 crore for its official broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), which has roped in a record 14 sponsors this season. IPL, by and large, has been a big revenue generator for SPN since it started telecasting IPL matches over a decade back.
The IPL-SPN success story has been consistent. If we look at the last few seasons: in 2016, SPN earned Rs 1,200 crore from the Indian Premier League with 12 sponsors on board, while in 2015, it earned over Rs 1,100 crore from this short cricketing format. Interestingly, this year marks the end of SPN’s broadcasting rights of IPL, the biggest sporting event in the country.
Rohit Gupta, President, Network Sales, Sony Pictures Networks India, believes that SPN has played a critical role in making IPL a larger than life brand. Speaking about SPN’s decade-long association with IPL, Gupta said: “IPL is going from strength to strength. We have had ten years and it has been a very successful event. In a short period, it is already competing with global leagues which have been there for 30-40 years. So, we have played a critical role in creating a more successful IPL. Sony was never a sports channel and our entire thinking was from the entertainment space and hence, we have created the whole fun and glitz around IPL. Our thinking is very massy, while some broadcasters are very niche in their approach. Hence, the IPL has grown beyond proportion and Sony’s contribution to the growth of lPL is immense.”
With the ongoing season marking the end of SPN’s association with IPL, the natural question is: will it have any impact on the broadcaster’s revenue given that the IPL has been a big and tested business bet for SPN?
Explaining how SPN has a business strategy in place beyond IPL and how the broadcaster looks at the sports genre in a holistic way, Gupta added, “We see sports as a big ticket driver in future and we have got enough properties in this genre. We have got football which is a big driver; we have got tennis, which is a big driver too. Moreover, WWE and TNA, which are extremely popular in India, are with us and therefore, we have got all the big sports the youths are going for. We also have five Indian cricket boards and all the India series with us. The good part is that a lot of initial work which was done 4-5 years back is showing results. So, it is all about how you are going to monetise some of those properties as brands are spending money outside cricket and the number of brands doing that is increasing.”
Gupta also believes that India is moving beyond a one-game nation, which in turn is good news for sports broadcasters. “No one clear trend has emerged except that non-cricket sports properties have started doing well, which is a good trend to have and gives the much needed confidence that India is finally moving beyond being a single sport country,” added Gupta.