• Deepak Narayanan

Sport minus fans = biryani without salt?

Updated: Apr 3


I attended a couple of webinars last week where broadcasters, federations and veteran journalists were discussing what the post-pandemic sport landscape would look like.

The one thing everyone was convinced about was that live sport on TV would be a hit – even if matches were being played behind closed doors.

Among the points that were made, a few stood out (paraphrased):

- A large chunk of the revenue generated by sport comes from broadcast deals. Technically, you could conduct a marquee event without selling a single ticket.

- While the vibe of the broadcast would be different because of empty stadiums, technology firms would innovate and fill this experiential gap.

- Brands would find different ways of engaging with fans, again via technology.

- A lot of sport has been played and covered in empty stadiums (think of most Test cricket you see on tv).

- Most importantly – fans had been so starved for two-three months that they would give anything to watch live sport on the telly again… the lack of atmosphere wouldn’t matter.

I’m not completely convinced. This is a bit like arguing that since I’ve been starved of biryani for three months, I will love the next biryani I eat – even if it has no salt.

I’m not completely convinced. This is a bit like arguing that since I’ve been starved of biryani for three months, I will love the next biryani I eat – even if it has no salt.

Yes, the hardcore fans – the top end of the pyramid – will watch anything that’s live (I mean, I did watch two live webinars about sport, and also peeked into the baseball and football streaming out of South Korea). The more casual sports fan will dip in out of curiosity – to see how broadcasters are dealing with the new normal.

Over the short- to medium-term though, I won’t be surprised if Live numbers come down and catch-up behaviour sees a sharp rise.


Fan behaviour has anyway been changing over the last few years. Shorter attention spans mean they watch only what is interesting – if it’s a close game, or an interesting passage of play, they’ll watch the stream. If not, they’re happy to snack on videos related to the live match.


It’s important for all stakeholders to capitalise. Boards, leagues, clubs, teams, the media… a plan to generate short-form stories in real-time in the Live-match window is the obvious starting point.


Basically, if my long-awaited biryani turns out to be under-seasoned, I’m most likely to pick out the meaty bits and ignore the rest. As brands, broadcasters and publishers wait for the action to kick off again, they should be building strategy around live sport’s most meaty bits.


(Daily Cutting helps publishers create the best video experience for consumers. Get in touch if you want details, or if you want to talk about the good old days, when we used to whinge about there being too much sport)



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