Sports Minister lauds b'casters, other stakeholders in promoting sports

NEW DELHI: India’s Sports Minister Vijay Goel said on Wednesday that digital media broadcasting will play a critical role in bringing about change in sports broadcasting in India but broadcasters must also focus on how sports as a product is delivered to audiences in rural areas so as to popularise the culture of sports.

Addressing the CII Big Picture Summit 2016 here, he said increasing penetration of internet, mobile devices and cheaper data services, especially in rural areas, will prove a game changer in this direction.

Interacting with the panellists on a session on `Sports Broadcasting in India: A Game Changer’, which meandered most of its time period all over the place despite having good representation from various segments of sports broadcasting and marketing, the Sports Minister said media has helped promote sports in the country and has also given a fillip to less popular sports like kabaddi.

A majority of sports leagues have been made possible, including football, kabaddi, wrestling, hockey, tennis and badminton, by persistent efforts by various stakeholders, leading to cascading effects on tourism and infrastructure sectors, Goel, added.

Pointing out that slick packaging of the sports leagues as entertainment by TV channels in India has been a game changer, the Minister said, “This is reflected in more than 450 million viewers of Indian Super League (football) with the most interesting revelation being the Pro Kabaddi League with a viewership of more than 500 million.”

To make sports more catchy and interesting for an average man, some games can also learn few tricks from cricket’s bosses who invented shorter formats of the game to keep the viewer and on-field spectators hooked on, while creating a new business model.

However, the Minister did admit that the sports as a culture is yet to percolate down to every Indian home and to rectify it an all out effort has to be made not only by the government, but also the people of the country.

“Playgrounds in schools and residential areas are being trimmed because of scarce availability of land and such actions don’t help,” Goel said, adding the government is committed to working towards building a culture of sports and improving infrastructure but all stakeholders, including corporate and sponsors, must work towards this common objective.

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