All-natural beings mutate and so it is not a surprise that popular sports are also seeing mutation. In the past couple of decades, there have been attempts by various stakeholders to launch newer versions of popular sports. There have been noted successes as well. The rise of T20 Cricket, Futsal, Beach Volleyball, and a few others. In the case of Kabaddi, the mutated version soon became the dominant version. Sports can mirror nature very well sometimes.
There are a lot of parallels between the evolution of sports and how businesses work. There are usually two main reasons, why such mutations take place in the business world. When an organization riding on one big success, literally occupies the market as an oligopolist, then an upstart innovates in an effort to compete or the organization itself views the potential to further drive advantage and either bring new customers or serve more to existing customers (Think Diet Coke). The other reason is if the core product while being large has stopped growing and is seen in decline, organizations innovate to ensure growth.
The rise of T20 cricket and in fact success of One Day Cricket, while accidental to begin with, was fuelled by Cricket boards’ drive to innovate and succeed as main offerings, especially First-Class cricket was not growing fast enough. However, the launch of The Hundred is probably an attempt to separate from the clique of T20 leagues, which are mushrooming around the world.
For Sponsors, this offers an interesting opportunity. Getting in on a sport at the initial stage is risky, but rewards are greater compared to engaging a tried and tested successful format. Brands, which are willing to ride out the initial years and more importantly invest in the growth of the format of the game itself, can really shine. This strategy does come with a risk.
Measuring success also has to be more evolved. As the mutated sport is at an early stage, the brand can attempt to associate with or even impose a specific brand attribute and invest in it to build along. CEAT Strategic Time Out is a great example of latching onto innovation and driving it harder. Such association is also easier to measure in terms of impact rather than generic brand visibility.
Like all things mutating, survival depends on the fight. Some mutations like Double Wicket died an unnatural death as they were far away from the original game and maybe too early. However, after a successful mutation in form of T20, the evolution of T10 and Hundred is something to watch out for. Time will soon tell. After all, as always, it will be survival for the fittest.
About the Author:
The author is a marketing and communication professional with deep interest in Sports. His range of experience includes working on marketing with FIFA, ICC, UEFA, EPL and several IPL Teams. He has been professionally associated with the Times of India Group, Network 18 and Coca-Cola. A sports memorabilia collector and a passionate traveller who has experienced sporting events around the world, his biggest sporting highlight has been travelling to and playing cricket on all 7 continents including Antarctica.