SportEX Asia 2018 will have Spain as the Country Focus this Year. As a curtain raiser the Embassy of India in Madrid hosted an event where key Spanish corporates and sports businesses including La Liga, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid, the Basketball Federation of Spain, Futsal Federation of Spain among others attended.
SportEx Asia is the biggest sports conference in India and are expecting to be attended by more than 250 stakeholders in Indian sports regime to showcase and discuss specific opportunities for various brands, HNI’s, Federations, foreign investors and investment funds looking at sports investment opportunities.
Ahead of the event which will be held at the Lalit Hotel, New Delhi, India on 26 and 27 February, 2018 – Chairman of SportEX Asia, Raghvendra Madhav speaks exclusively to The Sports Journal on a wide range of topics within the sports industry in India and Middle East.
You have a very vast background and experience in media, television and sports, was this the basis of your motivation to start SportEx Asia? Talk to us a little bit about your background and motivation for setting up SportEx Asia
The Sports sector over the years has evolved from a leisure and recreation activity to one that is associated with huge pride for nations at one level and the evolution of sports as a business at another level. My own background has been in media and telecommunications and I have worked in the UK, India and Southeast Asia and have sat on the boards of several large companies in media and telecommunications.
In today’s context I find that sports and entertainment are closely interlinked and lot of sports are now projected as spectator sports. The role of mass media and in particular television and digital streaming has helped in the evolution of sports in a major way.
With the growth rates of the Indian Economy consistently between 6% and 8 % the time has come for sports in India to become a valuable Sector. The concept of SportEX Asia was mooted by some of us to help provide a neutral platform for the sports sector in India and in particular to focus on the business of sports and investing in sporting assets in India.
What is the ultimate aim of SportEx Asia and what do you expect to achieve from this?
SportEX Asia is a decision makers conference and is attended by the top policy makers in the government, sports owners including leagues and teams, sports infrastructure owners, corporates, advertising agencies, funds and potential investors etc. Today it has become the definitive and most prestigious sports conference in India.
Hence, SportEX Asia provides a great networking platform for the investors, policy makers and other stakeholders to interact with each other and with the sports assets owners i.e. league owners, team owners , sponsors and sports infrastructure owners.
We believe that Sports has to be looked as a self standing, self sustaining economic model.
It goes without saying once ecosystem for sports gets created across different sports and across different geographies there will be twin benefits. First, the youth would actively be involved in activities which help build discipline, team spirit and value systems but also secondly provide employment opportunities just like any other sector.
How do you see the sports marketing industry in India at the moment and what you expect from it in the coming years?
With the proliferation of sports in India in general and rapidly rising popularity of various Leagues – the Indian Premier League in Cricket, the Indian Super League in Soccer, Premier Kabaddi League are already getting Hundreds of millions of television impressions. Several new Leagues Including in Wrestling, Hockey, Futsal, Badminton, Boxing and MMA are also gaining traction.
We believe that the Sector which is worth USD 1 Billion currently is Likely to grow to USD 3 Billion within the next 3 years or so. Interestingly as far as television advertising is concerned the advertising in sports programming and events has already overtaken the total advertising on all the news channels. Cricket – IPL has already matured into a big spectator sport and the soccer league is pursuing hot on the heels of cricket.
Do you think it will be successful for leagues like Premier Futsal, Super Fight League, Kabbadi in the long run?
Over view is that there is a scope for various sports and various formats to flourish. Kabaddi has been on for 4 years now and has broken even this year. Futsal and Super Fight League are very recent initiatives and have started well. Premier Futsal League last year had the Semi Finals and Finals in Dubai as well and this year are looking at a Longer Season as well for the League. SFL has partnered with a young channel MTV and are reaching out to the Youth sector in particular.
Those entities that are adequatly funded employ quality professionals to educate the market with regard to sport and build a strong footprint will definitely succeed in the medium and the long turn. I have no doubt that since India has a large market and many Niches, there is a wonderful opportunity to grow out sports brands in today’s market.
What are your thoughts on the OTT platforms who are pushing hard to buy big sports broadcasting rights – like Amazon and Twitter have done. We have seen an influx of many brands like FloSports, DAZN, Veqta, and Turner now launching their own platform as well – do you think it will be successful in india? Or linear television will still be the main?
There are over 200 million households in India and over 180 Million cable and Satellite Homes. Linear television has created the base for mass markets in cricket and soccer. IPL had a reach of almost 420 Million and ISL , PKL and PWL have already reached almost 280 Million viewers.
It is to be noted that thanks to the OTT platforms the reach and impressions are likely to jump up significantly. SONY, STAR, EROS NOW, AMAZON and NETFLIX and other OTT platform are showing keen interest in other sporting assets. This boards well for the financial health of the Sporting assets and also would be a significant revenue earner for the Linear and Digital distribution platforms.
The distribution of wireless broadband has significantly helped in this process as over the course of the Last 12 to 18 months 4G platforms have proliferated and nearly 400 Million wireless broadband subscribers are there in India today and this number is expected to increase to 530 Million by the end of 2018.
Recently you visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi to set up more partnership collaborations, can you talk to us about the strategic vision about expanding the SportEx brand and maybe hosting it in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the near future, is that something that is on the cards?
SportEX Asia is eventually about putting investors and corporate brands in touch with sports assets Owners. Given the extensive linkages between the Middle East India and Southeast Asia, we certainly see SportEX Asia extending out into Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We are particularly impressed by the fantastic work that is going on in the area os sports and sports infrastrucutre in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, their proactive approach in building out world class sporting infrastructure. We were also extremely enthused by the fact that both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are actively attracting Sportainment assets as well as running academies in their Infrastructure.
Eventually SportEX Asia anticipates great cross border synergies in the sports sector and to that extent SportEX Asia would definitely be looking at holding an event in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the foreseeable future.
SportEXcAsia will have several topics of discussion which would be of interest to both the decision makers, investors as well as sports enthusiasts and followers of sports. We will be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and on our Website as well as the Youtube channel of SportEX Asia.