Is it appropriate to term Indian sports as a sunrise industry?

The study instituted by Sporjo and conducted by KPMG (yet to be released) states that the sports industry has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 14% over FY16-20. This is 1.4 times the overall Indian TV industry.

The growth indicates that there will be an increase in the number of required skilled personnel. However, for it to take shape, multiple sectors have a role to play. Government, federations, private sector, schools, colleges, and every other constituency will all need to gel together.

To understand if the industry can bounce back strongly after hitting the pandemic blues, Free Press Journal talks to G Srinivvasan, CEO of Sporjo, a platform promising meritocratic pathway for sports professionals.

Srinivvasan is also a former Marketing Director at Reliance Sports, Assistant Vice President of the Indian Super League and a vital cog of IPL’s marketing machine in its initial days.

G Srinivvasan
G Srinivvasan
Instagram

Edited excerpts from the interview

Sports in western countries contribute enormously to GDP. What’s stopping India to tread on a similar trajectory?

The sports market place in India has shown considerable development in recent years mostly on account of aspects like launch of domestic sports leagues, development in digital consumption, and the capacity to host worldwide events like the FIFA U17 World Cups. But the Indian atmosphere is a bit unique as tv is advertiser-led in contrast to subscription in the west. This leads to higher investment in sports events with lesser assurance on returns.

Absence of betting on sport is also crucial as it contributes to the sports market. English football clubs have betting brands as front of shirt sponsors paying significant revenue. Ticketing income is not as significant for non-cricket sports in India, lowering the income prospective.

There have been a few incredible initiatives – Reliance in football, Star in Kabaddi, JSW in Olympic sports, Tatas in grassroots and by the government by way of Khelo India.

While all these cater to athletes and on-pitch efficiency, the value of skilled personnel functioning off the pitch to handle these sporting initiatives (across various functions) becomes significant.

Subsequently, employment possibilities in the sports market focusing on numerous elements such as marketing and advertising, sales, and sponsorship, operations, digital and social media, broadcast, analytics, occasion management, and so forth have also elevated.

The problem?

The sports market has evolved but the hiring and off-the-pitch quality is not keeping its pace. The approach in no way got streamlined. For a billion-dollar market, there are not many platforms apart from us to inform how one can employ or get hired in sports.

The possibilities and exposure have elevated more than the years but there is no pathway in sports like other industries. Banking, FMCG are meritocratic in this regard.

The Solution

We will have to build more neighborhoods of job-prepared sports specialists to contribute to the Indian sports market. It will be the catalyst that binds the candidates to the market and enables meaningful exchange amongst them.

As India aspires to develop into a sporting powerhouse and host world cups in various sports there is bound to be a demand for neighborhood personnel managing these. The aim must be to build an ecosystem of more than a million job-prepared specialists in India by 2030. Sporjo is at the forefront of this mission.

Today, sports events in India call for substantial investments without having an assurance of excellent returns. With greater off-field hiring approach, this can be changed.

How badly has Sports been affected in 2020?

There’s no denying the influence of Covid but events have gradually began to come about with spectators at venues. This implies there might be significantly less safety personnel to handle substantial crowds but more overall health and security personnel, who have been not there earlier, for producing and managing biosecure bubbles. So there’s often a chance. Fan engagement at venues is significantly less but will emerge on digital and Television, which wasn’t leveraged that considerably earlier. Operational individuals at the venue might decrease but number of individuals in digital working remotely could increase atthe same time. So yes, there will be a cut but new and alternate ones should come up.

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