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Strategic use of digital media critical for non-cricket sports

MUMBAI: Sport on digital media has still some ways to go. As per comScore’s last report, while reach of sports within the web population is slightly better than some of the BRIC nations, time spent is lowest and almost half of the global average.

SportzPower-GroupM ESP India Sports Sponsorship Report 2014 notes that sport consumption is largely driven by cricket. With the leading sites being ESPN’s Cricinfo, Yahoo Cricket and Cricbuzz, the consumption is largely limited to score updates, news consumption, blogs, etc.

Having said that, the strategic use of digital media will be particularly critical for the non-cricket sports in India, not just in terms of reaching out to the existing community, but growing the fan base. There are practical considerations that need to be taken into account as well. In television, there is the cost impediment; in print, the impediment is space. Digital is the future and sports administrators that embrace this reality will be the ones that score.

Indian consumers are fast adapting to multi-platform digital consumption which is expected to grow further as broadband becomes accessible (faster and cheaper), combined with cheaper smartphones and connected devices. India, with a large and growing digital literate population, has its unique challenges, but presents immense potential across several developing and underdeveloped sectors (sports, travel, online entertainment, healthcare, communication, government services, education, etc.) with windfall opportunities for growth.

While live streaming of most series is available, consumer adoption is limited and streaming quality is a large reason for this with bandwidth still being a challenge.

Advertiser adoption on digital sports is also largely limited to sponsorships. While properties like the Indian Premier League (IPL) have tried selling spot buys, they have met with limited success so far.

All this does not mean the potential does not exist. Consumer interest is clearly growing but has been impeded by poor infrastructure. The fact that better bandwidth speeds have helped grow consumption clearly points out that once technologies like 4G, etc. become embedded, this will explode.