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TV channels should broadcast sports competitions taking place at schools and universities

Experts at FICCI Frames 2019 spoke on the need for a comprehensive policy to take sports to the next level and how we should create champions from the money that is coming out of media rights

Properties such as Indian Premier League, Indian Super League and Kabaddi Premier League have created a momentum around the sports economy in India. Majority of private broadcasters are cashing in heavily on these properties to drive brands to the channels.

Speaking at FICCI Frames 2019, Matthew Kurlanzik, Director, Government Relations, Asia, 21st Century Fox, said that in India broadcasting rights is the fuel that is needed for any sports to grow. “In India, hockey gets 90% of its revenue from broadcasting rights, All India Federation gets 85% of its revenue from broadcasting rights and even in BCCI 47% is from broadcasting rights -- that is how important the broadcasting rights are for sports. The problem is that for Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, sports is not the agenda, Doordarshan is the agenda,” he said.

Atul Pandey, Chairman, Sports Live Entertainment, also agreed with Kurlanzik and said that sports do face challenges from policymakers but has a great opportunity in India.

However, Nitin Kukreja, Chief Executive Officer, IQuest Enterprises, feels that it is not only the responsibility of broadcasters but we also need to create a holistic environment around sports. He said we need to have policymakers with a perspective where, say, if we are focusing on the 2026 Football World Cup, they need to specify what we need to reach that level.

“We need to focus on everything from ground level in football. It is not only about media rights, we need to create champions from the money that is coming out of media rights. We need to nurture our talent and for that we need more schools with coaches. We need to shape the talent by providing them international football coaches who would coach them. We need to give our students right exposure to competition, which will happen when international teams will come in India to play. We need to have leagues at school level. We need to have that comprehensive piece from sporting side and from marketing point of view,” Kukreja said.

Going forward with the leagues culture, the experts feel the broadcasters should now take the focus to the ground level. They should broadcast competitions taking place in schools and universities, like international media does. The panellists spoke about the importance of creating a sports environment at the ground level to make India more prominent on international platforms.

Kurlanzik said policy will matter when we have strong base for those who want to watch sports. He said, “What we have missed is the massive overhaul of sports from the school and university level in India. Abroad, sports competitions at school and university levels are broadcast on sports channels. It doesn’t only give you a player who has already garnered a fan following but also helps in creating an environment around that sport. Apart from cricket, I haven’t seen a massive rush for any other sports and that is actually an indication that people have interest in sports. A policy for television has to be derived out of massive encouragement from ground. According to me, it should begin from the school and college level.”

Kukreja spoke about taking sports to international platforms, “We have seen mushrooming of leagues and exposures, but at the international level sports is a competition. Our medal tally at the international level has come down. We need to take measures to correct it and take Indian sports forward at an international level because the recognition, fan attention and money come from there.”

Speaking about the popularity of Indian sports outside India, John Medeiros, Chief Policy Officer, AVIA, said, “In Hong Kong, the cultural sphere is much different, but now I see a lot more Indian sports in our media than say 10 years before. There is a dynamism in India which is flowing out into the rest of the world. In India, the broadcaster should look into listing and de-listing in order to be successful.”

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