In the next 10 years, India will be a massive superpower in the world of sports: Vinit Karnik

The sports industry is booming with the appearance of professional sports leagues and India is experiencing a surge in this sector like never before.

Recognizing and analyzing this push, Vinit Karnik, Head – Sports, Esports and Entertainment, GroupM South Asia, has written a new book “Business of Sports”. The book focuses on the business side of sports and the various industry verticals using exciting new challenges for the sports ecosystem.

In an interview with e4m, Karnik talked about the inspiration behind his new book and more.


What was the inspiration behind “Business of Sports”?

“Business of Sports – The Winning Formula for Success” is the first book on this subject by an Indian for the Indian market. Now imagine, for a country of our size, with an extremely active and supportive government, its increasing investments in the sports sector – Khelo India, Fit India, the multiple programs that the Sports Authority of India undertakes for the development of our athletes from athletics and team sports – 10+ top leagues supported by sports federations and more… And we don’t have any study or reference material in which we educate and develop talent in the field of athletics and team sports. sport and its activities.

Two years of confinement have given me some free time to reflect and introspect some of the challenges I have encountered, as a practicing professional, and thus the idea of ​​writing a book that will help the next generation of scholars. , students and sports management enthusiasts. with marketing and sports principles that are relevant, relevant and actionable in the Indian market. Many thanks to the International Institution of Sport Management (IISM) and its founding director Nilesh Kulkarni who collaborated with me in this initiative.

This is a very important milestone for the sports education sector as the talent and potential we have in India is unparalleled, and I am extremely confident that in the next 10 years India will become a superpower massive scale to be reckoned with in the sports world and unlock their true potential to become world champions and exponentially increase the number of medals on the world stage. This book and many similar initiatives will help us be ready for the next phase of growth by educating our next generation of professionals towards becoming a sporting nation.

When you look at the body of academic work in sports management, where does India stand compared to its global counterparts?

Over the past 10+ years, we have seen several academic institutes offering sports management courses. As an industry professional, I had the privilege of visiting several of them. All of these institutes are doing a wonderful job in the field of sports education and I see tremendous passion and interest among students to pursue a career in sports. Over time, while spending time with academics and students, I realized there was a huge need for the creation of original academic content tailored to our students and specifically for our market.

India is a very unique market for sports and while we can take inspiration from some of the developed sports markets, we simply cannot adopt the lessons and case studies from the West. The dynamics and challenges of our market are very different from others and therefore it is imperative for us to create customized products, services and solutions that match the conditions and sensitivities of our market.

What are the main challenges for brands when it comes to sports marketing in India?

Cricket is our No. 1 sport and India is No. 1 in the world. Cricket has brought exponential value to brands and hence has embraced cricket and supported the sport for over three decades now. Cricket as a sport has been built over a period of three decades, and we must applaud BCCI for the fabulous work that has been done at grassroots level as well as development programmes. Hence, our performance and a solid enviable bench strength of talented young cricketers.

However, we have been a bit slow to develop other sports. That said, over the past 10 years there has been massive investment in the emerging sports economy. Government of India and our PSUs in partnership with our private sector companies have undertaken various programs which have catapulted our performance in sports like badminton, wrestling, boxing, shooting, archery, javelin, football, kabaddi and others. We’ve started to see some great performance results lately. Brands have now started to take notice and are investing in the sport.

India’s sports industry recorded a business value of Rs 9,530 crore ($1,288 million) in 2021, growing 62% year-on-year. This huge recovery has pulled the sector out of the uncharted territory of degrowth into which it has been thrown. As sporting events were canceled in 2020, there were considerably fewer scoring opportunities and industry figures dropped to Rs 5,894 Cr ($796 million). Just a year ago, before the pandemic wreaked havoc across the world, we crossed the $1 billion mark in 2019 with a turnover of Rs 9109 crore ($1301 million). In the future, the sports sector will continue to grow by double digits. Brands are chasing consumers’ eyeballs and one of the biggest consumer passion points is sports. Therefore, it is not a given, because at present, sports is the only content that promises to watch appointments.

How can brands effectively leverage sports platforms?

As the sport evolves from leisure to business, it becomes imperative that clubs and franchises are managed with an eye on performance metrics like growth and profitability too, and so I see the emergence of two clear dimensions of success – winning in the field and winning commercially. Although the two are not identical, there is a certain level of interdependence at play here.

Teams that earn more are likely to have bigger fanbases, while sports competitions with higher skill levels are likely to attract more eyeballs. The high quality of cricket we see at the IPL has certainly helped make it the giant that it is, and in emerging sports too we are seeing similar positive correlations. While the PKL has been incredibly successful, football is hugely successful in India and some of the biggest clubs in the world enjoy a huge fandom in the country. This leads to an increased propensity for Indian brands to invest in the growing number of football fans, which will surely benefit the ISL as we dribble forward.

The Tokyo Olympics brought unprecedented success to India with seven medals, and we have seen in the past that glory on the world stage for our athletes acts as a main driver for a wave of popularity in the sport. This leads to more local excitement, sowing the seeds for a virtuous cycle of performance, fame and commercial success. We are a sporting nation in the making, and for us to have meaningful contributions across different sports from a business perspective, the journey begins with action on the pitch. From that perspective, 2021 has given us plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Technology continues to shape sports commercialization and we will continue to see innovations and breakthroughs with huge potential for adoption in our field. 2021 has seen an impactful entry of blockchain applications and similarly, the world has witnessed the grand arrival of the metaverse which offers major opportunities for inclusivity in globalized sporting events. Esports has gained popularity in the last year and it is expected to see a new boost in the times to come. Ideas that germinate today have the potential to become huge businesses in the future. Although inventors provide us with more technological possibilities, it is important that the sports ecosystem picks up on these trends and explores ways to meaningfully apply them in the industry. The growing interest shown by foreign private equity giants in Indian cricket is a big sign for the industry in terms of capital advances as well as implementing best practices. If 2021 was the year in which we got back on track, then 2022 will see us race ahead, leaving behind milestones starting at the Rs 10,000 crore mark.

Why should people read this book?

The contents and principles of the book are absolutely original and the sensitivities that suit are adaptable to the Indian market. It can be a good point of reference for sports management faculty and students, as well as future students interested in sports, who are currently evaluating various academic options. This book can also help current sportspeople from various sports federations and bodies, sports leagues, franchisees, and sports marketing agencies get back to the drawing board and brush up on some of the principles that will help them in their workplace.

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