International sports leagues capture largest TV audiences in China and India | Media Analysis | Business
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Research from Ampere Analysis has found that in two of the world’s largest markets, China and India, international sports leagues outperform domestic competitions.
Ampere sports 13May2019
The analyst notes that even though major international leagues have already identified and targeted these countries, both China and India have unique traits in their sports preferences and audiences which continue to present significant opportunities for savvy rights owners and media players.

More than half (53%) of respondents in India enjoy watching sport and Indian respondents showed the highest relative interest in sport of any of the 20 markets surveyed in the research with an average of 41% on average across all markets. Chinese respondents were 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 but in China basketball is the most popular sport. Indeed 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 English Premier League (EPL) football. 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. While 33% of Chinese sports fans are willing to pay to watch the NBA, only 7% are willing to pay to watch the domestic basketball league. It’s the same trend for the Chinese soccer league - only 8% of sports fans are willing to pay to view.

Cricket is the 800lb gorilla dominates the sports rankings in India with 90% of sports fans indicating that they like watching it. Cricket was followed by tennis and badminton. India’s own leading cricket competition, the IPL, is outperformed by the international leagues though – the ICC Cricket World Cup and ICC World Twenty20. Nonetheless, while it may be 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 for the 2018-22 season (or USD$480 million per season). 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.

Demographically speaking, Indian sports fans are slightly older than the national average and have a higher income, thus says the analyst making them an attractive market for sports rights owners and media players alike.

Commenting on the research, Alexios Dimitropoulos, senior analyst at Ampere Analysis says: “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.”