Sports sponsorship grows 12.3% in 2015: report

Sponsorship grows to Rs5,185 crore from Rs4,616 crore; other games catch up with cricket in on-ground ads


Sponsorship for Pro Kabaddi League grew fourfold, as revenue expanded to Rs48 crore in 2015, despite the absence of a title sponsor. Photo: PTI
Sponsorship for Pro Kabaddi League grew fourfold, as revenue expanded to Rs48 crore in 2015, despite the absence of a title sponsor. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: India’s sports viewers and fans aren’t just obsessed with cricket. As their appetite for other sports grows, advertisers and broadcasters are seeing value in putting their money behind new formats and leagues.

Sports sponsorship in India grew 12.3% to Rs.5,185.4 crore in 2015 from Rs.4,616.5 crore in the previous year, according to the ESP Properties-SportzPower report released in Mumbai on Tuesday.

This accounted for 10.4% of the total Indian ad expenditure in 2015, as reported by GroupM, a media agency.

The third edition of the report has been produced jointly by ESP Properties, entertainment and sports division of GroupM, and SportzPower, a provider of sports and business news.

“There is definitely a cultivated sense of understanding between the corporate sponsors, sports teams and federations. A symbiotic marketing relationship has emerged within the sporting ecosystem in India,” said Vinit Karnik, business head, ESP Properties.

“2016 will be fantastic for not only players and federations, but also for brands and spectators, with a deeper engagement with sporting properties,” he added.

Ground sponsorships grew 30% to Rs.1,030.50 crore in 2015, the study found. Interestingly, the gap between cricket and non-cricket sports was marginal in terms of how much they brought to the table in this segment. Of the total ground sponsorship spend, cricket accounted for 51%, while non-cricket sports accounted for 49% of the overall ground sponsorship pie.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) continued to be a cash cow in this segment, despite the controversies surrounding it. The property grew 13.9% in 2015 to contribute Rs.529.50 crore.

Beyond that, football ground sponsorships grew 91.6% to Rs.114 crore in 2015. The Pro Kabaddi League grew fourfold, albeit on a relatively small base, as revenue expanded to Rs.48 crore in 2015, despite the absence of a title sponsor.

On-air sponsorships grew 6.8% to Rs.2,690 crore in 2015.

This was on the back of key properties, such as IPL, which pulled in approximately Rs.800 crore for broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India. While the ICC Cricket World Cup fetched Rs.500 crore for broadcaster Star Sports, the Indian Super League got Rs.100 crore for the channel.

The Pro Kabaddi League also managed to get Rs.45 crore for Star Sports.

Overall team sponsorships grew 13% to Rs.558.20 crore. This growth was despite 1.9% drop in cricket team sponsorships to Rs.341.20 crore in 2015, owing to fewer matches being played. The 49% rise in non-cricket-team sponsorships, which accounted for Rs.217 crore in 2015, created a great deal of optimism.

The growth in this segment has come on the back of the Indian Super League as well as Indian companies such as HCL Technologies Ltd and Wipro Ltd investing in European football clubs.

What was perhaps telling of the future, said Karnik, was the fact that team sponsorships had grown by 13% despite the proliferation in the number of leagues and formats which were all vying for a piece of the same sponsorship pie.

“Sports other than cricket have successfully established themselves in terms of revenue and fandom within the Indian sporting firmament,” said Thomas Abraham, co-founder of SportzPower. “Sports like kabaddi and football have massively increased sponsorship revenues in 2015 and we saw return editions of sports like tennis and hockey as well. The successful launch of the Pro Wrestling League bodes well for 2016, which will see the advent of more franchise-based leagues.”

In the sports endorsement deals, the overall pie grew by 27% to Rs.416.40 crore. Of this, cricket accounted for Rs.264.4 crore, while endorsements with international athletes grew to Rs.110 crore. Other sports raked in Rs.42 crore in endorsements.

The biggest endorsement deal of 2015 was delivered by Tata Motors Ltd, which signed football superstar Lionel Messi as its first brand ambassador at Rs.60 crore per year. 2015 also saw the introduction of cricketer Virat Kohli to the Rs.100 crore endorsement club, alongside Sachin Tendulkar and M.S. Dhoni.

Endorsements in other non-cricket sports grew a spectacular 90% from Rs.22.1 crore in 2014 to Rs.42 crore in 2015, with Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and Mary Kom accounting for 40% of the endorsements pulled in.

Digital media and mobile were also expected to offer a fillip to sports sponsorships.

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