The second edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) that begins in less than three weeks (October 3) is expected to see much larger brand interest this year. The central sponsorship is expected to double and go up to Rs.100 crore, according to sources. While most of last edition’s brands have signed on again, there are new brands such as ecommerce giant Flipkart which is said to have joined in as a sponsor. The first edition of the ISL had 10 sponsors at the central level and raked in around Rs.50 crore (Rs.500 million) according to the GroupM ESP report.
Some of the brands in the first edition included Hero MotoCorp which had taken up title sponsorship rights for a period of 3 years for Rs.18 crore per year (in a Rs.54 crore deal). Maruti Suzuki signed on as the associate sponsor for the league. The associate sponsorship price was pegged at Rs.8-10 crore in the last edition. The other sponsorship partners included PepsiCo, Amul, Puma, The Muthoot Group, Dr. Reddy’s Nise Gel and DHL. These sponsorships were expected to be in the range of Rs.3-5 crore each. On the back of ISL the on-ground revenues of football had increased to Rs.59.5 crore in 2014 from Rs.14.2 crore in 2013.
The league which is owned by IMG, Reliance and Star India Network had not divided on-air and on-ground sponsorship in the last edition so that brands get a higher exposure. Many of the central sponsors saw their ads on TV as well as their branding in and around the stadiums. However, only on-air sponsorship of brands was said to be low according to media reports as there was a lot of skepticism from brands with many fence-sitting last year. The league also did not have a benchmark in terms of viewership which added to their hesitation.
However, the viewership in the first season of the league was said to have received 429 million viewers across the eight channels. This was said to be way higher than the viewers that tuned in for the FIFA World Cup that took place that year itself. With viewership such as the one seen in the first edition many senior media planners say there has been interest from brands on advertising for ISL this year.
According a senior media planner from a GroupM company said, “We have been seeing interest from brands on ISL this year, however the talks are still in process and negotiations are on. I expect many of the deals to closed somewhere closer to the date to the beginning of the tournament.”
Another media planner said, “It is not only ISL, a lot of the non-cricketing leagues are attracting more attention from brands. Many of them are still evaluating their options as Diwali too falls during the period as they might want to even put spend on other properties. However, the interest is there but many of them will take the decision only somewhere close to the date of the tournament.”
“ISL is something for the long haul. I don’t think it will at this moment get that much attention from brands as cricket. It will be sometime before brands keep some of their budget for ISL or football for that matter. There are brands that are evaluating it as an option but no one has yet come to final decision on their participation for it,” said another senior media planner.
While brands are still evaluating options of sponsorship on ISL, this is definitely a much better step from last year were many brands either had a negative view or were sitting on the fence. This year could definitely see more ad spends from brands onto the tournament.