We are a nation that lives and breathes cricket, yet many feel that they are now getting an overdose of it. The 15-20 year olds today do not identify so much with cricket. They want something different, something fast and something trendy. Formula One seems to be the answer.


Kingfisher went ballistic with the promotions of its beer at the Indian Grand Prix held in Noida last month. Airtel was the title sponsor of the event. It ended its sponsorship of the Champions League Twenty-20 cricket even before the three-year deal ended. For a nation that is obsessed with cricket and for a sport that dominates advertising in India, when a big sponsor like Airtel backs out, is it an indication that things are changing? Is cricket facing boredom? Is there oversaturation of cricket? Perhaps. Think about it, Neo Sports, the official broadcaster of the India-West Indies series gave a 40-60% discount for a 10 second ad spot; add to that the falling viewership rating of the sport and you have your answer. Today, advertisers are looking for big sports properties other than cricket. Agreed, cricket was and will remain a religion in India, but the youth wants something more, and F1 is the sport that’s fashionable to follow and appeals to the young and restless. In spite of initial scepticism, the inaugural Formula One race was a success. To the surprise of many, the 3-day event drew a crowd of 95,000 spectators on race day.


When it comes to sports, India has never really left a lasting impression. Except for cricket, there is hardly any other sport where it stands out. When it comes to international sporting events, then most often we have been left red-faced. Take the Commonwealth Games for instance, which generated a lot of bad publicity for India, and showed us in shoddy light. In contrast, the inaugural F1 race was loved by all. Finally, an international event was executed flawlessly by India. With only private players and with no government support, the event did well.

It makes complete business sense to be a part of the Formula One event. It offers global reach to both sponsors and fans alike. F1 is a far more lucrative sport than cricket. It has a reach that is much wider than cricket. The Indian Grand Prix was telecasted to 550 million viewers in 200 countries. It provides a global platform to brands, which events like T20 cricket fail to do. Consider this, there is zero audience for cricket in major economies like France, Germany, Italy, Brazil and Russia. At the end of the day, it is imperative for any sport to reach out to more people and F1 has that mass appeal.

Today, growth in businesses is going to come from emerging market like Brazil, China etc, and cricket does not excite many of them. If a global sponsor has to reach them, he needs a sport like F1 with a more global appeal. Indian companies are going global too. Many of our home-grown brands are growing fast and becoming big players in the new emerging markets.      Read More....

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