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India’s Sports Sponsorship grew to a strong 12% in 2018: GroupM’s ESP Properties

While 85% of Sports Adex is on TV; Digital grew by 44% driven by OTT platforms.

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 ESP properties- the entertainment and sports division of GroupM

released the 2019 report on sports sponsorship in India. Overall sports sponsorship saw a

healthy growth of 12% in 2018. Sports advertising grew to Rs. 7762 crores.


Cricket has gained the ground as IPL hit a maximum. While an overall level of the growth of

on-ground sponsorship was 20%, cricket witnessed a momentous upsurge of 34% with IPL

Central Sponsorship contributed to revenue of more than INR 600+ Cr ($88+ Mn) in 2018.

IPL franchise fee, amounting to approximately INR 291 Cr ($43Mn), ceased to be valid in

2018 rendering a year-on-year comparison irrelevant in that area, netting off this difference,

contributing to the 12% growth.


The IPL Team Sponsorship tally had a better year, touching INR 300 Cr ($44Mn) for the first

time ever saw a growth of a significant 20%. IPL also plays the star act on TV as digital moves

up the ladder. 85% of all ad expenditures in sports happened on TV in 2018. Digital grew at

44% as it was triggered by Hotstar and Sony Liv and platforms which continued to drive

adoption and carved a niche for itself.


Emerging sports too saw positive growth signals. ISL (Indian Super League) over the years

had grown into a strong property with a calendar spread over six months. Kabbadi had a

good year in 2018, registering a growth of 31% over the previous year in on-ground

sponsorship. This was further backed by Odisha government announcing a five-year deal

with Hockey India for junior and senior- men and women teams. Year also saw Tata Motors

become the principal sponsor of Indian wrestling in the non-cricket team sponsorship.


Also, big money continues to chase the king of chases as cricket widens the lead over the

rest of the sports. 2018 saw a 22% growth in Athlete Brand Endorsement Value. Of the INR

482 Cr ($71Mn) spent by brands on sports stars acquisitions, 81% was accounted just by

India’s most popular sport. Two cricketers alone, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, pulled in 66% of

all athlete endorsement monies spent by Indian brands last year. Though Virat Kohli leads

from the front touching an endorsement value of approximately INR 200 Cr. Pusarla Sindhu

had a momentous 2018 both on and off the court.


Vinit Karnik - Business Head, ESP Properties said, “2018 was a spectacular year for the

business of sports and 2019 will be another power-packed year. There will be a significant

rise in sports leagues and tournaments since IPL has inspired other sports leagues such as

PKL, ISL, and PBL. From the IPL team sponsorship seeing a growth of 20% or for the first time

ever to Kabaddi registering a growth of 31%, factors like these have given sports sponsorship

a boost. With IPL now and ICC Cricket World Cup coming up we also expect sports celebrities

to be the talk of the town, monopolizing consumer attention and advertising money.”

La Liga signed a three-year exclusive agreement with Facebook to show all 380 matches to

users in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and

Pakistan. With huge digital groundswell behind viewership trends, digital media should grow

disproportionately in the future as a wider viewer base will attract more ad revenue.


Based on the events across various leagues, tournaments, sponsorships, and non-

sponsorships, 2019 looks like a good year for Cricket and emerging sports, which will give

rise to bottomless engagement with brands and sporting fans in India.


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