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Top 10 trends that will rule sport-ainment in 2016

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MUMBAI: Sports in India has received a shot in the arm recently with the growing number of leagues spanning games like badminton, football, kabaddi, wrestling et al. Predicting the Top 10 trends that will rule ‘sport-ainment’ in 2016, GroupM’s specialist business unit ESP Properties (Entertainment & Sports Partnerships) in its report said that elongated presence of emerging sports will be one of the top trends.

ESP Properties business head Vinit Karnik said, “The Indian sports and entertainment industry is going through exciting times. From gaming to short format videos, 2016 will unapologetically be all about changing the existing norms. With the rise of leagues across various sporting formats and with the increase in co-branded promotions, the opportunities for brands to associate with movies and sports are also increasing. We perhaps could even look at having bi-annual or longer seasons for emerging sports! We have come a long way in how leagues address sponsorship deals, ticketing, fan engagement etc. Gone are the days when brands associated with films for vanilla in-film placements. It is touted to be deeper, richer and more brand-centric than before! On that note, let 2016 be a year of many firsts and innovations!”

The Top 10 trends in sport-ainmnet in 2016, according to ESP are as follows: 

1) Emerging sports to have elongated presence: Emerging sporting leagues will offer bi-annual schedules or longer seasons to attract and retain audiences and advertisers.

2) Rise of music festivals: Music festivals will continue to create sharp differentiation by focusing on specific genres. They will also create successful IPs independent of established and celebrated artistes and offer brands a round-the-year calendar to engage with audiences.

3) Owned media to compliment paid media: Brands and studios chasing common target consumers will enter into non-cash exchanges where brands will offer content creators their platforms and owned media to extend and expand their reach in exchange for the license to co-promote the film(s).

4) Shortened, targeted and summarised: Digital will emerge as a powerful dissemination medium for audiences unable to follow live sports or event telecasts. Video clips and short format videos capturing highlights or key moments will emerge as a new avenue to reach audiences who are pressed for time.

5) Happy sporting; yours digitally: We will see an increase in the number of online e-sports tournaments being hosted in India. And so will the number of youngsters who actively pursue a career as an e-athlete with an ambition of representing India at various e-sports tournaments on a global platform.

6) Underdogs will come out of the closet: Non-cricketing sports will increase bundle on-air inventory with on-ground entitlements and create a better value for both rights owners and advertisers. Non-cricketing sports are inherently not advertiser friendly when it comes to availability of on-air inventory. Central sponsorship thus acquires critical importance for brands and advertisers and will make a bee line for central sponsorships of leagues.

7) Brand and film engagements to have a longer courtship: Brands partnering with films will seek longer windows of co-branded association to derive optimal benefits and leverage the multiple opportunities that are offered during the various stages of the script to the screening process of the production of the film.

8) Influencer marketing - the new buzzword: Brands will seek more credible consumer Influencers and leverage them in the social media space instead of creating high profile TV campaigns using celebrity brand ambassadors.

9) Broadening the base: Broadcast of non-cricketing sports on high reach national and regional channels will successfully expand the audience base, which in turn will attract more advertisers.

10) Subtlety is key: Product placement in films will see more thematic and contextual yet subtler integrations replacing passive and overt brand placements. Brands will seek active consumer engagement and not just saliency.

Karnik added, “The modern sports experience isn’t confined to the stadium. Nearly half of all sports fans prefer to follow their teams digitally and frequently use their laptops or smartphones to look up sports-related content during a game. In this digital sports sphere, marketers are developing clever ways to engage with modern fans. Social media has given athletes a very public and direct line of communication with their fans and brands will be tapping this potential more fervently than before.”

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