Sports sponsorship in India grew by 14% last year: ESP Properties Report

Year 2017 was a milestone year in sports sponsorship in India, as the US billion-dollar mark was crossed for the first time.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 21, 2018 4:25 PM

Year 2017 turned out to be a great year for the business of sports in India. While demonetization and GST hit overall ad expenditure in 2017, the sports sector has been able to ride the storm with a steady and positive trajectory.

The overall sports sponsorship in India grew by 14% in 2017, according to a report released by ESP Properties, the entertainment and sports arm of GroupM and SportzPower.

Media investments contributed to the largest portion of the pie (55% of overall spends), followed by ground sponsorship, according to the report. Sports advertising rose to Rs 7,300 crores, a substantial leap from Rs 6,400 crores in the previous year. Year 2017 was a milestone year in sports sponsorship, as the US billion-dollar mark was crossed for the first time.

As per GroupM’s ‘This Year, Next Year’ advertising investment forecast, Indian advertising expenditure in 2017 was Rs 61,263 crores, and this report estimates that 12% contribution to the overall ad spends are from sports sponsorship alone.

Interestingly, sponsorship of non-cricketing sports grew in 2017. India’s second biggest sport by participation and attendance, football grew by a considerable 64%. India hosted its first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup which became the most attended in the history of the event. Attendance for this Football World Cup was a record 1,347,133, surpassing China's 1985 audience of 1,230,976.

Since last year, ISL has become a 10 team, 18+ week showcase, up from 8 teams and 10 weeks in the last season. ISL sponsorship has grown by 22% from the previous year. The gap between PKL & IPL TV ratings is narrowing - PKL delivered 1.5 TVR with 312 million reach and IPL delivered 2.7 TVR with 411 million. Football has a tremendous reach in West Bengal, the North East, Kerala and Goa, similarly PKL delivers well in Patna, UP, Jaipur and Hyderabad among others.

Year 2017 also saw the birth of five new franchise based leagues – UTT, SBL, SFL, Cue Slam and P1 Power Boating. Brands are bullish about investing in emerging sports; 25% increase in franchise fees came from developments in other sports, as cricket remained unchanged. Thirty-six new franchises were added across all new and existing leagues.

All major sporting leagues managed to bring on board sponsors at a 100% or more incremental value for the title sponsorship. Specifically, the IPL has emerged as one of the top five most valuable global sports properties in the world, according to the report.

Talking about the report, Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties, said, “2017 was truly the big year for the business of sports. With Pro Kabaddi League emerging as the second-most popular league in India after the Indian Premier League, and the India edition of U-17 Football World Cup creating history in terms of audience attendance, sports sponsorship enjoyed a bull run.”

“As popularity of sports grows in India, sports stars also expand their brand endorsement portfolios. Virat Kohli led brand endorsements with 19 brands and 150+ crore in value, while PV Sindhu leads the non-cricket endorsement space with 11 brands and 30+ crore in value,” Karnik said.

Thomas Abraham, Co-Founder, SportzPower, said, “With the 2017 momentum and the economy also looking up and set to grow at 7.3% in 2018-19, sports is looking at an even bigger year. As the industry anticipates clarity on the structure of club football in India, among the new leagues on the horizon, volleyball seems the most promising. In the media firmament, while new revenue benchmarks are expected from television, it will be traction in the digital arena which provides real pointers to where the industry is going over the next few years.”

Based on media events across various leagues and tournaments, 2018 looks like a good year for cricket and other sports, which will give rise to deeper engagement with brands and sporting fans in India, the report concludes.

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