Big money investment pours in for Indian sports broadcasting

India’s sports industry is in the sunrise of its life, according to Sanjay Gupta, the chief operating officer of Star India. It is already a “US$2 billion enterprise”, he says.

Rupert Murdoch’s Star India media television network is investing heavily in trying to boost the popularity of sports beyond cricket in India. Last year both the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament and the Pro Kabaddi League, a traditional Indian sport, were launched.

“For many years we have collectively bemoaned the fact that India is a one-sport nation,” says Mr Gupta. “However, today if you step back and reflect on the last five years – we are in the middle of an organic, unstoppable sports revolution in India. Sports is the new sunrise industry.”

While cricket has continued to grow over the past five years, other sports are also emerging and gaining more popularity, he says.

“Today kabaddi, football and other sports account for over 30 per cent of total sports consumption – whereas five years back the number was a paltry 5 per cent,” he says.

Anil Wanvari, the founder and chief executive of, points out that Mr Murdoch is investing in Indian sports broadcasting after having had a notable success in the UK with Sky, which invested in and built up the English Premier League.

“With economic development, sports viewership in a country usually moves from a single sport to multi-sport,” according to a report by KPMG and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “Broadcasters are increasing their investment in non-cricket sports. For instance, Star India currently allocates 70 per cent of their sports budget to cricket, down from the 90 per cent a few years ago.

The report adds that “the sports genre is expected to add significantly to TV advertising revenues in 2015” driven by cricket as well as the growth of new properties such as the ISL.

“Broadcasters are expected to increase their focus and investment on sports,” the report says, “since sports content can drive subscription revenues on account of its exclusive nature.”

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