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Nielsen on changing landscape of global sports

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MUMBAI: The global sports industry is undergoing more disruption than ever as a result of ongoing shifts in media consumption, the emergence of new technologies and a rapidly evolving sponsorship market.

Nielsen Holding, a global measurement and data analytics company released a report on the top five global sports industry trends. It found that the big tectonic movements like the rise of digital media, esports and diversity are setting off many smaller ripples of activity such as the rise of short-form video, content-led esports sponsorship and new women's sports formats.

The top five trends noted by Nielsen are distribution disruption, esports evolution, content rules, sponsorship and partnership and sports in our changing society.

In the distribution disruption, the single biggest question for the sports business today is whether media rights revenues will hold up as the traditional TV business is disrupted. Star India is a very good example for the disruption in traditional TV business. The broadcaster invested around Rs 22,000 crore in a span of eight months to acquire IPL, the biggest domestic cricketing league and the BCCI media rights.

Other significant effects of disruption include consolidation among traditional media companies. Several large media companies are seeking greater scale in revenue, geographical and programming terms, partly in order to compete with the tech giants.

Esports globally has grown suddenly in the past couple of years. The percentage of fans that started following esports in countries like Japan, France, the UK, Germany and the US are 39, 34, 34, 30 and 29 respectively within the last year.

The combined e-sports and gaming market is estimated to be Rs 3900 crore with more than 2000 teams consistently participating in tournaments across India and abroad with over 50 crore players worldwide. U Sports, one of the newly formed sports business companies in India, launched U Cypher, the country’s first multi-platform, multi-game esport championship.

E-sports has been announced as a medal event in the 2022 Asian games seeing its rapid growth. It is moving from being a hobby to an actual career option.

‘Content is king’ is the third trend in the list. Attention spans are shortening and competing for consumer attention is rising. This trend, perhaps reflects the ongoing rise of over-the-top (OTT) streaming solutions across a variety of private platforms, in particular social media, and media consumption trending towards mobile, bite-sized and on-demand content.

The likes of Facebook and Amazon and the life-or-death value of live sports to pay-TV should maintain rights fee growth for premium properties.

The rise of the smartphone, coupled with the expansion of high-speed internet connections in many countries, has seen consumption habits shift ‘inevitably and irreversibly’ away from linear programming and towards on-demand mobile content.

Sponsorships are continuing to evolve into richer, two-way relationships. The market had already been trending in this direction, but today the most successful sponsorships truly are proper partnerships. In the new sponsorship paradigm, audience data, compelling content and connection to business objectives are the winning traits, according to the report.

In India, ground advertising saw growth from Rs 6400 crore in 2016 to Rs 7300 crore in 2017.

In last year’s trends, Nielsen reports said “Social responsibility is becoming more prevalent and impactful.” This year, the relationship between sport and society is changing faster than ever, and staying on top of that change has become even more important.

Overall, 66 per cent of the consumers are willing to pay more for brands committed to positive social and environmental impact. If we bifurcate it age-wise then 72 per cent of consumers are below 20, 75 per cent are under 34 and 51 per cent are between 50-64.

Women’s sports continues to grow in focus for rights holders, brands and media. The sector is booming as the growth opportunity represented by under-engaged females is recognised, as brands demand a focus on women’s sports and gender equality takes greater prominence.

It isn’t just in developed markets that women’s sports is gaining traction. Last year saw the remarkable opening of sports stadia to women in Saudi Arabia, the inaugural CAF Women’s Football Symposium, and Harmanpreet Kaur becoming India’s first female cricketer to secure a bat sponsorship, among other milestones.

The year also saw exciting launches of new women’s properties, such as the UK’s Tyrrells Premier 15s rugby union competition and Australia’s AFLW. And the 2018 Winter Olympics offered great opportunities for storytelling around female athletes. Stakeholders like the US broadcaster NBC obliged, putting the likes of Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin center stage in their promotional coverage.

The next big thing can be that the tech giants will increasingly challenge traditional sports media and increased competition will force higher fees for some premium content.

The esports market can possibly take a cue from traditional sports by adopting similar revenue-generating models and creative content will be key for successful esports sponsorships.

The content rule for the right holders will play an important role in the future and they will explore ways of monetising the new types of content, through sponsorship and subscription products. As the quality, volume and variety of content increase, it will be harder and harder to cut through.

Sponsorships will become more flexible and tailored, and will include more value-in-kind. Rights holders will invest more in digital content and activation capabilities, in order to engage fans, collect data and service sponsors.

Women’s sports will continue to grow, but properties will have to work harder as the marketplace becomes more crowded. Spending will increase on sponsorship campaigns that exhibit brands’ credentials on diversity, sustainability and other social issues.

Also Read :

Sports sponsorship in 2017 up by 14%: SportzPower-GroupM report

IPL 2018: Team sponsorship deals may see an uptick

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