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Sports sponsorship grew by 12.3% in 2015: ESP SportzPower Report

The 3rd edition of ‘Sporting Nation in the Making’ report says on-ground sponsorships grew by 30%, team sponsorships by 13%, athlete management by 27% and on air by 6.8%

Sports sponsorship grew by 12.3% in 2015: ESP SportzPower Report

The 3rd edition of ‘Sporting Nation in the Making’ report says on-ground sponsorships grew by 30%, team sponsorships by 13%, athlete management by 27% and on air by 6.8%

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | April 6, 2016


The Indian sports industry has seen tremendous growth in sports sponsorship in the last one year. The third edition of the ‘Sporting Nation in the Making’ report by ESP Properties, the Entertainment & Sports arm of GroupM, and SportzPower shows a growth from Rs 46,165 million in 2014 to Rs 51,854 million in 2015.

The report is classified into four broad categories: On-ground, Team Sponsorship and Franchise Fee, Athlete Management (Endorsement), and On-air Sponsorship investments. The report also tells us that cricket still forms the biggest chunk in the sports industry pie, while non-cricketing sports are emerging as growth drivers.

Ground sponsorship saw a substantial growth from Rs 7,948 million in 2014 to Rs 10,305 million in 2015, while team sponsorship grew from Rs 4,936 million in 2014 to Rs 5,582 million in 2015. On the other hand, franchise saw a growth from Rs 4,823 million in 2014 to Rs 4,903 in 2015. Endorsements witnessed a rise from Rs 3,278 million in 2014 to Rs 4,164 million in 2015. Lastly, On-air grew from Rs 25,180 million in 2014 to Rs 26,900 million in 2015.

Overall, sports sponsorship grew by 12.3 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year. It accounted for 10.4 per cent of the total Indian AdEx. Endorsements industry grew by 27%. International athletes contributed to 25% of the endorsement numbers in 2015.

Vinit Karnik Vinit Karnik

Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties, emphasised how sports can be harnessed as a successful communication medium by brands. He said, “There is definitely a cultivated sense of understanding between corporate sponsors, sports teams and federations. A symbiotic marketing relationship has emerged within the sporting ecosystem in India. 2015 saw sports accounting for 10.4 per cent of the total media spend, which is 12.3 per cent increase from the previous calendar year. 2016 will be fantastic for not only players and federations, but also for brands and spectators, with a deeper engagement with sporting properties.”

In spite of seeing other sports like Kabaddi, Hockey, Indian Super League (ISL), IPL grew by a solid 13.9 per cent in 2015 to Rs 5,295 million. Some of the key brands that drove the cricketing upswing were Paytm, Ceat Tyres and MRF Tyres with a combined inflow of around Rs 1,078 million. Football clocked in a whopping 91.6 per cent growth in ground sponsorships from Rs 595 million in 2014 to Rs 1140 million in 2015.

Tennis witnessed a 32 per cent rise in sponsorships at Rs 470 million. Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) revenue soared by a massive 300 per cent YOY to Rs 480 million in 2015, that too without a title sponsor. Pro Wrestling League (PWL) and Hockey India League (HIL) also drove On Ground Sponsorship from Other Sports to close at healthy Rs 2230 million for 2015.

On the team sponsorship front, cricket team sponsorship saw a marginal 1.9 per cent drop from Rs 3,478 million in 2014 to Rs 3,412 million in 2015. The drop has come on the back of lesser number of matches the Indian team played. The year also witnessed an increase of 48.8 per cent in non-cricket sports, up by 13 per cent to Rs 2,170 million. Football registered 67 per cent increase at Rs 608 million, while PKL stood above all sports at Rs 1180 million, a 38 per cent rise. Closing at Rs 240 million, PWL made up for its chaotic debut.

The biggest endorsement deal of 2015 was delivered by Tata Motors, which signed global football superstar Lionel Messi for a two-year deal at Rs 600 million per year. MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli remain at the top of the Indian endorsement pyramid. There has been a rise among female sporting stars with Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and MC Mary Kom being the leading ladies in 2015 in non-cricket sports accounting for 40 per cent of endorsements pulled in the space. Non cricket endorsements rose to Rs 420 million in 2015.

On-air sponsorship increased by 6.8 per cent YOY from Rs 25,180 million in 2014 to Rs 26,900 million in 2015. Despite the challenges of time zones, the ICC World Cup managed to garner Rs 5,000 million in ad revenues in 2015. Wider reach, consistent performance metrics of non-cricket sports help in garnering future spends.

This year will witness a huge growth in sports search on mobile and social media engagement. It is seen that 70 per cent fans bring their mobile devices to share in stadia experiences. 46 per cent mobile internet users search for sporting events and news. According to the report, in IPL, CSK could not generate much online conversation despite a strong fan base, while in social media top three drivers are KKR, RCB and MI.

With six-digit Facebook bases, ISL teams are more talked about than the league itself, thus highlighting a clear divergence between team buzz and league buzz. Similarly, PKL teams also cumulatively generate 500 times more buzz than the parent league.

Other leagues like IPTL, HIL and PWL need to focus on building more traction on their social media assets to be able to up their social and search numbers.

Thomas Abraham Thomas Abraham

Thomas Abraham, Co-Founder, SportzPower , said, “Sports other than cricket have successfully established themselves in terms of revenue and fandom within the Indian sporting firmament. 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. We expect 2016 to be a good year for Cricket as well as Other Sports, generating ad spends and clocking in corporate investments at an exponential pace.”

2016 is a great year for the sporting community, including emerging talent, federations, broadcasters and fans. Not only that, sports teams and federations need to come together to serve a great product/service to fans, where a larger fan community can be developed. Sports need a mobile amplification. This year will see this medium grow 100 times throughout all sports. IPL templated leagues for sports such as table tennis, cue sports and volleyball are readying for their respective coming out parades.

Click here to view ESP SportzPower Report

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