Ficci Frames 2016: Nitin Kukreja, President, Star Sports, Keshav Bansal, Owner, Gujarat Lions, IPL Cricket Team, Sukhwinder Singh, CEO, FC Goa, Supratik Sen, CEO, USports and Udit Sheth, Managing Director and CEO, SE TransStadia talk sports - from Kabaddi to Cricket
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | April 4, 2016
Sports events have evolved into brands – and brands that advertisers like to bank on. Sports events like the Indian Premier League or the ICC World Cup cricket tournaments, are no longer just about the pitch, play or stadiums, they are also about merchandise revenues and advertising income. So, it was not quite surprising, that sports should command a session at Ficci Frames 2016.
At one of the concluding sessions of the three – day conclave, a panel on sports attracted participants like Nitin Kukreja, President, Star Sports and team owners and managers. Also on the podium for the panel discussion were Keshav Bansal, Director, Intex Technologies (India) Ltd and Owner, Gujarat Lions, IPL Cricket Team and Sukhwinder Singh, CEO, FC Goa. Representing those who work at the grassroots for sports development, were Supratik Sen, CEO, USports and Udit Sheth, Managing Director and CEO, SE TransStadia.
Moderated by Gaurav Kalra, Senior Editor, ESPN Cricinfo, the discussions veered to many aspects of sports and sports broadcast, like grassroot level programmes, the condition of stadiums, advertising monies and merchandising revenues. The session titled ‘Sports gets Serious: What’s Next?’ also dealt with issues like the impact digital would have on the genre.
The panelists concurred on the need to develop sports at the grassroots level and for the need for basic infrastructure for sports. The discussion began on the evolution of Kabaddi, mostly a rural favourite and ended with a millionaire game on television and its branding. Many suggestions evolved on how sports could be promoted in the country.
Some thoughts and some opinions shared at Ficci Frames 2016:
Nitin Kukreja, President, Star Sports:
For any sports to develop, all the stakeholders have to work together. That’s what has happened for Kabaddi, Football and all the other leagues that we have worked on. While I agree that ratings are very important for the sale and investment ratios, we have realized with time that TV is not the only way to make it big. Grassroots are very important and the whole eco-system for any sports can become sustainable, only if the clubs work on the local marketing and grassroot development of a sport. The responsibility must be how to design the tournament better.
Supratik Sen, CEO, USports:
Initially, it was a challenge, but when I started discussing it around, my mother and aunt sprang up saying, ‘yes, we know the game. We have played it.’ That excitement really meant something. I instantly realized that if a woman in every household knows the game, then it is not possible that the younger generations are oblivious of its existence. Another thing was that we had real athletes playing the game, not celebrities. It was kind of easier as they hadn’t seen anything called fame before. After the first season, people did ask us mockingly whether we would soon start a ‘gilli-danda’ game. But now, after the third season, Kabaddi is a brand.
Udit Sheth, Managing Director and CEO, SE TransStadia:
I agree with Nitin, when he says that everything around sports should be done keeping fans in mind. So, should the stadiums be. None of the seven stadiums in the country are designed for fans, neither has kept safety as primary focus and nor has the broadcasters or TV coverage being given a thought about.
Keshav Bansal, Director, Intex Technologies (India) Ltd and Owner, Gujarat Lions, IPL Cricket Team:
We started off with reverse bidding and that’s why we had to be very aggressive. The idea behind buying the IPL team was not just to make profits from the team, but it was for building a brand which will touch millions of consumers.
Sukhwinder Singh, CEO, FC Goa:
We have come a long way, yes. But Goa is a place where Football is played the most. What we did was we engaged with the community through their own events like Goa Carnival. The game is on for three months a year, but what you do in the rest of the nine months to connect with the fans is very important. What will be crucial in developing any game, I think, is the community connect. We are investing a lot on the grassroots and tried to make FC Goa an aspirational brand and club. The other day, our technical director created a workshop idea for the parents, who really want to understand what should be done with their kids’ enthusiasm of the game. This will be an engaging opportunity.