"Sport will make strong comeback; short-term impact on media rights and sponsorship revenues"

While sports will make a strong comeback, there will be pressure in the short term on the current values of media rights and sponsorships associated with various sports properties, including the marquee Indian Premier League (IPL), due to the effect of the pandemic on the overall economy, said senior sports business professionals during a riveting discussion in the webinar titled #SportsPostLockdown.

The second episode of the webinar series, which focused on 'Sports Media Rights & Sponsorship Revenues Impact', was held on Thursday, May 14, with participation from Mark Levitt, Senior Director of Business Development, Corporate Partnerships, Chicgo Bulls, Atit Mehta, Head of Marketing, Byju's, and Remus D'cruz, Head – Sports Marketing, Apollo Tyres, who shared their insights in a session moderated by Vineet Karnik, Business Head – Entertainment, Sports and Live Events, GroupM.

Atit Mehta expressed optimism saying: "We're at a low now, with no live sports. And we don't know how the new normal is going to be. As we start opening up, as sporting events begin to resume, there will be a short-term impact, but over a two year period it will all average out."

Referring to re-negotiating of sponsorship values, Mehta said, "We will have to negotiate if there is value to be extracted. But it is necessary to state that we are not doing a sponsorship deal because we are getting it cheap. If there is value for the brand in the partnership then we will go for it, but we will be aggressive in the negotiation to get a better deal."

Referring to the intangible value for brands through association with sports properties, all panellists agreed that the role of intangible value derived from a partnership is going to increase, and though it has not been done and is difficult to calculate, the need to calculate this value will become more important post-pandemic.

On the outlook of brands towards spending on sports, Remus D'cruz opined that though there is the possibility of short-term deals getting affected, there was a good chance that long-term partners invested in sports will see the opportunity that exists in building towards a brighter future. "I think they'll stay with strategic investments, long term. Yes, they're going to renegotiate rights and value over a period of time. Moreover, rights holders too are going to be empathetic towards the brands right now, and everyone has to work together to come out of this situation."

Speaking about the situation with Chicago Bulls, Mark Levitt said: "From a relationship standpoint, during the last few months we've been constantly in contact with our partners in order to try to find a solution together... if it becomes a normal for now that games are played without fans I think it's going to challenge the leagues and teams to enhance the at-home viewing experience, whether through new technologies or new types of social media content. Going forward brands are going to be smarter with their dollars in how they communicate with fans, especially in the digital space."

The #SportsPostLockdown webinar series is being organised jointly by GainAccess Sports & Entertainment and SportzPower, and powered by Brandaid Events. In the pipeline are more webinars focusing on key aspects of the business of sports, including media rights, sponsorships, fan engagement, and grassroots development, among others.

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