Call to boost multiple-sports in India

Mumbai, March 14 (IANS) India should promote a revenue model in which non-cricketing sports like football also take a centre stage and become popular, experts said here Thursday.

A right model is the need of the hour to build a sports eco-system that is viable for everyone in the value chain for promotion of multiple-sports in the country, they said.

The discussion titled 'Sports: Economic Viability and the crisis within' took place on the third day of the 14th edition of Ficci Frames 2013, the annual convention of the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry here organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Experts also felt that there is a need to make serious efforts to device a model that will help grow other sports, "instead of copy pasting the Indian Premier League (IPL) model, which has been the case lately," said Venu Nair, head -South Asia of World Sport Group.

The session was moderated by well known sports commentator Harsha Bhogle.

"Every other day, you see an IPL-styled league with just a new logo pasted on it. IPL became the success that it is because there was a thriving eco-system in place before it launched. Other sports won't taste success by just emulating the IPL model," Nair said.

Kushal Das of All India Football Federation (AIFF), said that a step in rising to international levels would be to improve the quality of Indian football so that it is at par with international football.

"The problem with Indian football is not so much cricket as it is football itself. Today, football fans have access to the best of football leagues whether it is EPL, La Liga or Bundesliga. When you compare Indian football with these top leagues we don't match up," he said.

Das pointed out that Indian football has suffered because of bad infrastructure, and lack of talented players.

Nair also pointed out that lack of clarity on scheduling is another major challenge faced by non-cricket sports.

Speaking on escalating costs and lack of revenue to match up to the cost, Nitin Kukreja, Star India president called for the need for the government to de-regularise prices and let the market forces decide the price.

"The revenue side has been a huge challenge. In fact, it has been a challenge to exploit all revenue streams. While the cost of cricket rights have gone up the subscription revenue has not kept pace," he said.

Neo Sports Broadcast COO Prasanna Krishnan opined that addressability was a bigger issue than price cap.

"You can charge Rs.1,000 but if you don't know how many subscribers you have it won't make much of a difference. So in my opinion, addressability is a bigger issue. digitisation in that sense will be a game-changer," he said.

Agreeing with and adding to Krishnan's view, IPL chief executive officer (CEO) Sundar Raman said sports broadcasting globally is driven by subscription income unlike India which is dependent on ad-revenue which keeps fluctuating depending on season.

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