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    All about sports: India travels from cricket to F1

    Synopsis

    If you mentioned sports to Indians, until a few years it would have been implied that you were referring to cricket. But not any more.

    MUMBAI: If you mentioned sports to Indians, until a few years it would have been implied that you were referring to cricket. But not any more. From Lionel Messi to Michael Schumacher — sportsmen from diverse sport have made a stop-over in India in that last year. But that doesn't stop the nation from going wild over Viru's double ton or celebrate Ashwin's marriage but one thing is sure — Indians' appetite for sports today has moved beyond cricket.

    If IPL introduced the concept of club-culture in India, F1 was a resounding success and WSH is promising to bring IPL-like money and adulation to hockey. Sports today can be compared to any sunrise sector attracting ample FDI and that too without any opposition. So from having city franchisees to big prize money to large sponsorship deals, the actual sport is reduced to just an excuse for all this to come together.

    Hiren Pandit, national director - sports, MindShare explains the logic, "today brands are looking at associations with a variety of sports because there are mechanisms of measuring valuation for an event in place today. A client can easily know how much valuation he can get from putting money in a sport. Earlier it was pure estimation." No wonder then Hero MotoCorp sets aside about Rs 100 crore p.a. only for its sports association besides other marketing initiatives.

    The Hero Indian Open Golf carries prize money worth $1.25 million — the largest prize money for an open field sport in Asia and the women's hockey championship has booty of $300,000. The current Barclays Premier League sponsorship is worth £82.25 million over three years from 2010-2013. WSH claims to have the highest ever prize money announced for any hockey event in the world — Rs 4 crore for the winner.

    The world today is turning to India in search for their proverbial pot of gold and sports are just one of the many options available. Be it setting up training schools by football club Manchester United in Mumbai or the Buddh International Circuit — everyone wants to be part of the action.

    Pandit of MindShare says that a mind-boggling 200 brands associated with IPL this year — a figure that's been increasing YOY. Associations with sport today is also at peak, while cricket still remains the priority marketers are also interested in other games. Mustafa Ghouse, sports head, Globosport India says, "Cricket is still way ahead in popularity but interests in some series have diminished in value. Corporates are open to more non-cricket associations today. Sportsmen leading in their area of sports are being signed because of their performance."

    Satellite TV also opened the world of sports to Indians and football, F1, Moto Sports, tennis are all beneficiaries of this. Prasanna Krishnan, COO, Neo Sports gives an insight into the channels' 2012 sporting calendar. COPA, Euro 2012, US PGA Tour, Davis Cup, Fed Cup and WSH are some of the events that the channel will be airing next year. And what is interesting is brands that advertise with cricket are also associating with other sports.

    "Brands that advertise on tennis or football are not different from cricket. Brands are same, but they advertise here for a different reason. It's a very cost effective way of reaching a premium, niche market at a fraction of cost. An ad in cricket ODI can cost you Rs 4.5 lakh per 10 seconds, whereas for other sports it could be as low as Rs 5,000 for the same duration," says Krishnan.

    Besides sports sponsorship, companies are also investing in building sports infrastructure in the country. Reliance and IMG setup a joint-venture to set up a modern infrastructure and coaching facilities for sports and to create and operate sports. Mahindra & Mahindra, have tied-up with National Basketball Association (NBA) to develop the game in India.

    Transstadia, a company that develops sports infrastructure is investing Rs 200-crore to setup a world-class in Ahmedabad. The company has also brought World Series Boxing (WSB) to India. Former hockey champion and Arjuna awardee Viren Rasquinha offers some advice, "there is definitely potential for other sports to grow in India. But what is needed is a professional approach in managing the sport. We need to have great role models in sports beyond cricket and the national team has to do really well. Couple all this with marketing the sport well and we will have more than cricket to talk about."
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