Fans are the real heroes of sports economics: Sports panel, e4m Conclave 2017

The panel discussion on marketing through sports stressed on building an organic sporting community in India from the grassroots level

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 1, 2017 8:50 AM

A panel discussion on ‘Marketing through Sports - sponsorship rights and must-haves to deliver marketing impact,’ was held recently at exchange4media Conclave. Moderator Gaurav Kalra – Senior Editor, ESPN Cric Info, shared insights on the topic.

Speakers for the session were Ajay Dang, Head – Marketing, UltraTech Cement, Vinit Karnik, Business Head - ESP Properties, GroupM and Uday Sodhi, Executive Vice President and Head – Digital Business, Sony LIV.

Karnik agreed that sports economy today has pace and momentum as there is a lot of passion for the domain by the people, but there needs to be a lot of changes implemented by broadcasters as well as advertisers. He reiterated that fans need to be kept at the centre as they are the real heroes of the game.

Kalra started the session with a focus on how digital sector has caused a major disruption in the game of sports marketing. Sodhi said how all types of sports are now being consumed on mobile phones which have caused innovation and disruption. “It is an interesting space. I have been in the field for over 17 years but since last three to four years, sports in digital have completely taken over the space. We are one of the largest broadcasters of football and cricket. Masses are consuming these games 24/7 live on app. I wonder what people are doing at 2.30 a.m. at night watching these matches. The number of people using the mobile screen to watch content is growing. In last 18 odd months, the number has increased. We are seeing a huge shift,” he said. Sodhi attributed this to decreasing prices of internet data packs and the fact that Indian homes mostly have single television screens and viewing sports on it takes a back seat.

Karnik then spoke about how broadcasters’ approach towards TV and mobile is totally different. He also said that they rely on social media, organic media and marketing to do good business in the sector.

Dang, bringing in the advertisers’ point of view, said that though sports generally evoke a lot of passion, India is not a sporting community essentially, except for cricket, but that’s changing. He also pointed out that advertising is easy for broadcasters with cricket because a strong fan base has been created over the years and the audience is evolved. A sport is now growing from schools to colleges and that’s what is important for the growth of sports economics.

While discussing the topic all speakers including the moderator of the session agreed that building sports begins at the grassroots. Broadcasters and advertisers both have to build communities around the same. The common contention of all speakers was that India does not have an organised structured programme to create sporting communities. Advertisers are constantly assessing the value of a sport that audiences attach to it. The world of advertisers will inherently follow the consumers.

The session ended by taking Dang’s advertising point of view. He concluded the discussion by saying that both advertisers and broadcasters should collaborate for best results.

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