Indian sports industry can become a $10 billion industry in next 5 to7 years
Sanjay Gupta, Managing Director, Star India, spoke at the Confederation of Indian Industry Scorecard forum, 2018, the flagship event on sports of the CII, and in his address, he emphasised the importance of the sports industry in India, saying that it has a potential to become a $10 billion industry in the next 5 to 7 years.
Gupta also explained how interest in sports has seen an upsurge in India recently, giving way to numerous leagues in the sports ecosystem. He said, “Over the last few years, the kind of activity around the business of sports has been tremendous. There are now over 15 domestic leagues in the country – across kabaddi, football, wrestling, boxing, badminton – from just 2 five years back.”
He also said that these leagues have provided a backdrop for various entrepreneurs and businesses in the country, adding that, “IPL, our largest league, is valued at $5.3 billion today. Even the sports start-up ecosystem is buzzing with activity. Entrepreneurs are building business models across the breadth and depth of sports – from eduSports that enables schools to adopt sports education, Anthill Creations that creates cost effective play areas in unused spaces, ‘Sports For All’ to GoSporto that gives people access to playgrounds around them. This has all resulted in a steep change in the sports industry, which has grown from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion in just a matter of five years. And in my mind, this journey has only begun. Sports is still at 0.1% share of our GDP, while globally the industry is sized at around 0.5% of GDP share”.
He spoke about the “Making India Play’ fund, created by the CII, which enables corporates to explore opportunities to invest in the sports ecosystem. Saying that large corporates, such as Tata Trust, HCL, Ambuja Cements, Bharti Foundation and ACC have already shown their interest and commitment to the fund. Explaining that, “Overall contribution towards CSR is close to $1.8 billion or approximately Rs. 12,000 crore every year. Even if we invest half this fund, Rs. 6,000 crore towards building this infrastructure and capabilities, we will be able to touch 12 crore kids in the first year itself. Over the next few years, we will be able to reach out to every single kid in the country. It can truly catapult sports to another orbit”.
Gupta also touched on the 'Khelo India School Games' initiative, which was launched this year, and how it has encouraged a shift in the way people thought about sports, especially at the grass-root level. He elaborated, “16-year old Nisar Ahmed from a Delhi slum, who missed breaking the world record in the 100m sprint by 0.2 sec and has now been selected as one of the 14 athletes to undergo training by Usain Bolt’s coach in Jamaica. Sumathira Balakrishnan, daughter of a farm labourer from Tamil Nadu, who completed the 400m only 1.38 sec behind the Rio Olympics’ gold winner. The kind of talent that it has thrown up is quite phenomenal. With scholarships being given to 734 young and upcoming sports stars in this edition itself, it has provided a template for shaping the future of these boys and girls”.
Speaking about the tremendous new heights the Vivo Indian Premier League has reached, Gupta pointed out that the number of people that tuned in to watch the cricketing extravaganza was astounding. He added. “Over 70 crore fans came in to enjoy IPL – 70 crore! Compare this to the number of people who voted in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the biggest elections that India has even seen, of 55 crore. And they all spent a lot more time, glued to their television sets or mobile screens, enjoying this spectacle. Such a growth in an established sport like cricket is truly remarkable”.