BWF rights renewal in India in limbo

BWF rights renewal in India in limbo - InsideSport

Saina Nehwal was scripting her heroics in the Indonesia Masters 2018. Her fans and badminton fraternity back had to rely on social media and the Badminton World Federation website for match updates as Indian Premier League player auction grabbed the limelight and major television audience over the weekend – the days of the Indonesia Open semi-finals and the finals.

HS Prannoy had taken to Twitter to express his displeasure for missing Saina’s live action in the Indonesian Open.

If you thought badminton yet again has become the victim of the preferential treatment cricket gets in the country, please hold on. In the country of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, sports broadcasters has little interest in the sport that has produced more sporting icons than many other disciplines.

Star Sports has not renewed its BWF broadcast rights for India as of now. The broadcaster, according to sources, finds little value in the $1 million it had paid for the India rights of the BWF events last year. There is little interest from the other broadcasters either. This means, the chances of Indian badminton fans getting to see live the major badminton events from across the globe, including the All England Championship, are remote as of now.

BWF sales partners Infront sports are looking for a broadcast tie up in India. The poor television ratings of the recently-concluded Premier Badminton League have further jeopardized the prospects of an Indian broadcaster finding value for their money in the BWF rights.

“I have my doubts that broadcasters will invest $1 million in BWF rights after the badminton league BARC numbers. I also don’t see that Infront will agree for a number lower than its earlier deal,” said a veteran broadcast executive on condition of anonymity.

“If you look at the Yonex business, then badminton certainly has followers in India. Ironically, it is still seen more like a leisure sport here. A serious marketing effort is lacking to capitalise on the potential of this game.”

Meanwhile, there is some consolation for all badminton lovers in India. The India Open Super Series from January 30 to February 4 will be live on Star Sports. The broadcaster has struck a deal with the Badminton Association of India, who being the hosts hold the India rights for the league.