Digital sports revenue to touch ₹4,360 crore by FY26

NEW DELHI: Revenues for sports from digital platforms is estimated to grow to 4,360 crore in FY26 from from 1,540 crore in FY2, rising at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22%, according to a report released by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), KPMG and IBDF (Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation) on Wednesday. The report is titled Sports broadcasting on TV: A match made in heaven.

Advertising revenues for sports properties on digital platforms are likely to be driven by robust advertiser interest and higher fill rates as compared to other content genres.

Subscription revenues for sports are expected to grow on the back of increase in OTT subscriptions, and a visible, concerted effort by OTT platforms to move towards a SVoD (subscription-led video-on-demand) future. Over the past few months, OTT platforms have made conscious efforts to ramp up sports content; Amazon Prime Video, for instance, secured exclusive cricket rights from New Zealand Cricket in November 2020. Viacom18 that won the digital rights to the IPL for 23,758 crore earlier this year, is also streaming the FIFA World Cup free on its OTT platform JioCinema.

While India has been steadily improving when it comes to being a major sporting nation, the consumption of this genre in India is significantly under-indexed. Sports contributes only 3% of the total viewing on television as compared to developed countries such as the US where the number is closer to 10%, the report said.

Sports viewership on television in India stood at 722 million in the first nine months of 2022 and is estimated to surpass the 776 million viewership of 2019 by the end of the year. This is expected on the back of marquee properties like T20 World Cup, India bilaterals, Pro Kabaddi League, and Indian Super League being lined up in the next three months. While the covid-19 pandemic and the lack of major sporting properties in 2020 led to a temporary blip in viewership, the recovery has been robust with 2022 YouTube download numbers higher than the full year viewership of 706 million in 2020.

While the covid-19 related viewership decline was deep across genres, sports was among the least impacted with a year-on-year decline of only 9% in 2020 versus 2019, compared to a decline of 28% in Hindi GEC and 20-31% in regional GEC. The reach provided by premium sporting properties is significantly higher than the reach provided by premium GEC properties. IPL 2022 had an overall reach of 400 million which is 80% higher than combined reach of reality shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Bigg Boss, The Kapil Sharma Show, Khatron Ke Khiladi and Shark Tank, the report said.

Among sporting properties, cricket (T20s and ODIs) including the IPL and bilateral India cricket continues see an increase in ratings on TV. For example, the 2022 edition of Asia Cup saw 12% higher ratings than 2016. The overall TV sports market was estimated at Rs. 7,050 crore in FY21, and the same is expected to reach Rs. 9,830 crore in FY26; growing at a steady CAGR of 7%. Overall revenues will grow from Rs. 9,530 crore in FY22 to Rs. 14,190 in FY26.

Despite the rapid growth of digital consumption in the last few years, the TV sports market is still expected to be more than twice the overall digital sports market in the medium to long term, and TV as a platform for sports consumption and monetisation is likely to remain highly relevant for the foreseeable future, the report said. For example, the TV reach of IPL 2022 stood at 400 million compared to the digital reach of 100 million.

Despite the staggering popularity of cricket, the viewership of other non-cricket sports has been steadily growing and stands at a reasonable 20% in 2022, according to the report. The proliferation of multiple franchisee-based sporting leagues in India (around kabaddi, football, kho-kho and so on) post the success of the IPL has meant that there is almost year-round sporting content available to the viewers.

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