China and India sports interest present ‘significant opportunities’ to broadcasters and rights owners

Citizens in China and India have a large interest in international sports that should excite rights owners and media players, a new survey has revealed.

According to Ampere Analysis, international leagues outperform domestic competitions in the nations which are two of the world’s largest markets.

Indian respondents showed the highest interest in sport of any of the 20 markets surveyed in the research (41% on average across all markets). More than half (53%) of respondents enjoy watching sport. Chinese respondents are at the other end of the spectrum with only 32% indicating that they like to watch sport. Football is the most popular sport for the vast majority of survey respondents.

Basketball is the most popular sport in China – unlike any other market surveyed

China is the only country in the research where basketball is the most popular sport, followed by football and the Olympics. NBA ranks as the favourite sports competition in China, followed by the English Premier League (EPL). China’s domestic leagues such as CSL (Chinese FA Super League) and CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) do not appear in the top 10 competitions by interest level, and the number of sports fans prepared to pay to watch them is lower than for overseas leagues. China is the only country where table tennis is among the top sports.

Chinese sports fans are younger than the national average – 65% are 44 years’ old or younger. By contrast, Indian sports fans are slightly older than the national average and have a higher income, making them an attractive market for sports rights owners and media players alike.

Cricket dominates the sports rankings in India with 90% of fans showing an interest, followed by tennis and badminton. India’s own leading cricket competition – the IPL is outperformed by international leagues – the ICC Cricket World Cup and ICC World Twenty20. Though ranked third, the IPL is one of the richest non-soccer leagues on the planet, with domestic and global TV rights acquired by Star India for USD$2.4 billion (€2.14 billion) for 2018-22. IPL fans not only take more services from Star’s premium channel, Star Sports Select than the national average, but also over-index for other media content services including Netflix and Amazon.

Alexios Dimitropoulos, Senior Analyst at Ampere Analysis said: “Given their sheer scale, China and India are key markets for the world’s big sporting leagues who are looking to expand their reach and grow their overseas revenues – both in terms of media rights and merchandise sales. Many of the globe’s largest sports leagues have already targeted these countries, but there is certainly more consumer appetite for competitions, and a willingness to pay to watch them.

“In China the NBA and the EPL already boast two of the country’s largest TV rights contracts, and that’s why both competitions tour China and play league and friendly matches locally. However, with such strongly preferred sports in each market, international leagues entering these two markets for the first time outside of the traditional favourites will need to work hard to develop a following.”

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