GroupM ESP, the entertainment, esports and sports division of GroupM India has released the sports sponsorship report for India 2021. The size of the Indian sports industry spends is estimated to have surpassed Rs 9,500 crore in 2021.
The ninth edition of Sporting Nation in The Making, GroupM ESP’s sports report takes into consideration the sponsorship spending, player endorsements and media spending on sports properties.
The report stated that 2021 saw an echoing comeback for sports sponsorships and media deals, as compared to 2020 when the pandemic took over. 2021 got our “Sporting Nation” back to a billion-dollar scale with a 62% growth over 2020. India’s performance at the Tokyo Olympics has been a morale booster for budding sports talent in the country and 2022 will bring new opportunities in multi-sport events.
With Rs 6,018 crore, sports adex surpassed 2019 levels in both TV and digital. Cricket yet again, remains the most popular sport, accounting for 94% of the sports AdEx. The media spends on cricket in 2021 was higher (Rs 5,657 crore) than the overall media spends of 2019 (Rs 5,232 crore).
The spending on sports celebrity endorsement grew by 11% year-on-year in 2021. A total of 444 brand endorsement deals have happened in 2021, with cricketers accounting for 318 endorsement deals and 87% of total brand endorsement value. The Olympic Year of 2021 increased Emerging Sports Athletes' endorsements by 79%, accounting for 13% of the overall brand endorsement value.
With an action-packed 2021, media spends in sports saw some heavy scoring in India as brands and consumers were brought closer by broadcasters. Technology also played a very crucial role in evolving the way people appreciate sports. The household penetration of TV sets in different markets over the country saw a major role in the growth of sports properties. With this, TV continues to be the largest medium since 2021 saw overall ad spends of Rs 5,051 crore, which was a growth of 59% over 2020 and we saw digital spends touching Rs 965 crore.
Prasanth Kumar, CEO, GroupM South Asia, said, “2021 was a year of a major comeback for the sports industry. Not only in sports but we saw growth in sponsorships, endorsements, and media expenses in 2021. This year will also be a good re-start point for brands to invest in sports properties since sports will see a rise and will in turn deliver ROI to brands. Apart from this, we even saw esports gaining significant traction and there was a major rise in the number of gamers in the country. Properties like PKL, ISL, etc. are also seeing a major rise in followers which goes to show that India is heavily invested in overall sports from an interest and inquisitiveness standpoint. As for cricket, we are seeing a growing interest by Foreign private equity giants investing in Indian cricket which is proving that Cricket will continue seeing a huge surge in India and with 2021 getting cricket back on track, we are seeing 2022 racing ahead, aiming to cross Rs 10,000 crore mark.”
Acceptance of visual media for live sports broadcast by fans led to a great demand of platforms like SonyLiv and Disney Hotstar who are now streaming a variety of sports for their audiences. We see the OTT space becoming more competitive in the years to come since India is adopting OTT for live streaming sporting action.
Vinit Karnik, Head – Sports, Entertainment and Esports, GroupM South Asia, said, “India as a Sporting Nation has finally arrived, overcoming all barriers brought in by the pandemic. Cricket being the hero of India, contributed 88% of the sports spends. IPL and T20 WC boosted the sports adex growth. We also saw emerging sports contributing 12% to the overall sports spends. The media spends in 2021 were the biggest contributors, who accounted for almost two-thirds of all sports industry spending. While sports celebrity endorsement was on the rise in 2021, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Neeraj Chopra and PV Sindhu are the top athletes in the sports celebrity brand endorsement space. 2022 will be an exciting year with the Asian Games, FIFA World Cup, Premier Badminton League, and many more properties coming up, and the fans are in for a treat. The sports arena is an exciting drive ahead from the fanbase lens and the business lens too and we have a host of opportunities in the Indian sports industry.”