Doordarshan will now enter the business of private sports league. The launch is being targeted by the next couple of months.
DD is planning three different leagues—in basketball, tackle football and kabaddi. Tackle football a modified form of American football. All the three properties will be university sports leagues, played among students from various universities and colleges across the country, Livemint has reported.
Doordarshan has already initiated talks with an American company which has expertise in the university sports sector, said Supriya Sahu, director general, Doordarshan. No more details are divulged.
The idea, Ms Sahu said, was to develop a public-private partnership in a bid to put in place a structure for university sports – beginning with the aforementioned sports and later expanding the format to others. “DD Sports is in the process of reinvigorating the content of the channel and rebranding it to make it relevant for its target audience. Sports leagues are major content differentiators in the genre. It sees potential in university sports,” she said.
Once the leagues are in place, the plan is to air the zonal matches on the regional channels of Doordarshan and the finals on DD National. “However, all the matches will be aired on DD Sports. The leagues will be launched with a strategic publicity and promotion plan which includes cross-channel, print, radio and outdoor publicity,” said Ms Sahu.
Globally, the university sports or collegiate sports sector is a multi-billion dollar industry, especially in the US, and is usually supported by local communities and led by either private companies or government bodies, according to multiple sports industry experts. In the case of some sports, it’s a pre-requisite for a player to have played university league tournaments to participate in national ones.
“The television rights for collegiate sports are widely contested for and are sold at huge prices in the US. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry. To replicate this in India is a great proposition by Doordarshan, only if it is marketed, promoted and produced well,” said Tuhin Mishra, managing director and co-founder of sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures.
Doordarshan is not the first broadcaster to try its hand at university sports. In 2012, NDTV had come up with a university-level cricket league in partnership with Association of Indian Universities and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The league was aimed at encouraging cricket at the university level but didn’t last beyond the first season.
Things may be changing with the presence of several sports leagues in the private sector. Besides, university leagues may have a dual benefit. First, these may help Doordarshan attract eyeballs and get audiences to watch non-cricket sports. Second, these may provide a platform to budding players.
“Most of the developed sporting nations have grown on the back of strong university league infrastructure. In India, there is no structure for someone who wants to become a professional football or cricket player,” said Vinit Karnik, business head of ESP Properties, the sports and entertainment arm of media buying agency GroupM.
“A sports league on a national level across multiple universities, led by a platform like DD Sports, would be a dream come true,” he added.
Sports sponsorship in India grew 19.33% in 2016 to touch Rs 6,400 crore, according to a report titled Sporting Nation in the Making IV, published by GroupM ESP.
Currently, there are six major sports leagues played across the country—Indian Premier League, Indian Super League, Pro Kabaddi League, Hockey India League, Badminton League and International Premier Tennis League. The seventh Ultimate Table Tennis is all set to roll out shortly. Non-cricket leagues saw their franchise revenue growing 4.97% from Rs201.2 crore in 2015 to Rs211.2 crore in 2016.
HIL and IPL are owned and conducted by the respective national federations for the sports, the other leagues are run by licensed commercial partners.