India’s sports market sizzles


NEW DELHI. – Boxing, badminton, poker, pool – every sport imaginable is rebranding in India as a “super” or “pro” franchise-based competition chasing a slice of an emerging billion-dollar entertainment market dominated by cricket’s Indian Premier League.

The star-studded Twenty20 tournament has inspired a raft of glitzy new sports leagues seeking to replicate the winning formula that recently landed India’s most popular sporting event a bumper $2,55 billion broadcast deal. Earlier this month Rupert Murdoch’s Star India beat rival bids from Facebook, Sony and India’s Airtel to land the IPL’s TV and digital rights over five years from 2018.

But long before it hit the jackpot, the IPL – famous for its pyrotechnics, cheerleaders and huge signing bonuses – had no trouble filling stadiums and attracting huge TV audiences a decade after its debut.

Its huge success has not gone unnoticed by promoters hoping that less popular sports such as kabaddi, football and boxing can make inroads in cricket-mad India.

Celebrity talent and big-name sponsors are being deployed to whip up excitement. But Bollywood superstars are not the only investors in these nascent leagues, as foreigners are attracted to the growing Indian sports market. – AFP.


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