Business of Sport: Breaking the mould with focus and drive

SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin speaking at KPMG's inaugural Business of Sport Network event, which was an opportunity for sports business professionals to network. Beside him is Fox Networks Group Asia executive vice-president Italo Zan
SportSG chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin speaking at KPMG's inaugural Business of Sport Network event, which was an opportunity for sports business professionals to network. Beside him is Fox Networks Group Asia executive vice-president Italo Zanzi. PHOTO: KPMG

SportSG chief exec Lim lauds the connection combat sports have with fans

In just over five years, combat sports have gone from being the new kids on the block to the rock stars of Singapore's sports scene, bringing along vibrancy, creative marketing and spicing up social media.

Its rapid rise to popularity - establishing itself as a viable business model along the way - has earned glowing praise from Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin.

He said yesterday: "The combat sports have found a way to create a business proposition.

"They are able to touch both sides - entertainment and sports - and also play up stories that there are Singapore fighters, that there is something going on down here.

"One Championship, the professional boxing competition that's going to be held (the World Boxing Council world title bout on March 25 at the OCBC Arena)... I think it's really starting to break out some of the mindsets that we have."

PUSH AND PULL

They are able to touch both sides - entertainment and sports - and also play up stories that there are Singapore fighters, that there is something going on down here.

LIM TECK YIN , SportSG CEO, believes that the against-all-odds hook of combat sports is what draws viewers in.

Lim was speaking on the sidelines of auditing and consultancy firm KPMG's first Business of Sport Network event in Singapore, an evening for sports business professionals to network.

The head honcho of the national sports agency spoke to about 100 guests in a panel discussion entitled "The future of sport in Singapore" alongside Fox Networks Group Asia executive vice-president Italo Zanzi and KPMG partner (business transformation - management consulting) Craig Rawlings.

Zanzi added: "These (combat sports) are efficient events. They are moving hundreds of participants, the calendars are more flexible, the venues are more flexible, and it's made for television."

While American Mixed Martial Arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship places a premium on glitz and rivalries, Singapore-based One Championship, founded in 2011, attracts fans by sharing stories about the struggles its fighters faced.

The promotion also celebrates the contrasting martial arts styles instead of festering feuds.

Lim praised its focus and drive, and said of other potential sports promoters: "If there's an event that wants to come to Singapore and make it its own.. how can it get investors to make you money, and not just merely look for a sponsor and back that up with government grants?

"People need to do their homework and be very clear about what it will take to succeed."

But Lim hopes that more sports events and promoters will start to think out of the box, saying: "We haven't brokered a national conversation on how we can develop more innovative business models around some of the marquee events that we aspire to bring to Singapore.

"That's not something I've seen a lot of. The fact that government money is readily available has made it too easy and we do need to see how we can shift that mindset a little bit more."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Breaking the mould with focus and drive'. Print Edition | Subscribe