Sports sponsorship in India grew by 14% in 2017; Virat Kohli top brand endorser

Indian cricket captain was favourite among advertisers, with 19 brands & Rs 150+ crore worth of endorsement value, according to the latest 'Sporting Nation in the Making' report

Published: Mar 21, 2018

Starting out as a newswire journalist covering beats as diverse as business, politics, entertainment, crime, civic affairs, cricket and defence, I was keen to pursue a career in print or broadcast journalism. But the emerging world of multimedia storytelling promised a fascinating future, and I changed my focus to digital media more than a decade ago. Before Forbes India, I have worked for organisations such as ANI, Money Control, Arabian Business, Yahoo India and VFS Global. I hold master's degrees in Communication Studies (University of Pune, India) and Journalism (University of Westminster, London, UK).

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli
Image: Reuters/ James Oatway

Overall sports sponsorship in India grew by 14 percent in 2017, crossing the $1 billion mark for the first time, a new study has revealed.

According to the ‘Sporting Nation in the Making-V’ report released on Wednesday by ESP Properties and SportzPower, sports advertising in India increased to Rs 7,300 crore in 2017, from Rs 6,400 crores in the previous year.

The report covered the size of sports industry of India in terms of on-ground sponsorship, team sponsorship & franchise fee, endorsement and media spends.

Media investments contributed to the largest portion of the pie, constitution 55 percent of overall spends, followed by ground sponsorships. In fact, ground sponsorship in cricket crossed the magic $100 million mark for the first time, the report said.

Graphic: 'Sporting Nation in the Making-V' report: ESP Properties/ SportzPower

India cricket’s on-ground sponsorship grew by 19 percent (Rs 563 crore to Rs 669 crore) as India played more matches in 2017. However, non-cricket sports saw a heartening trend. India’s second biggest sport by participation and attendance, football grew by a considerable 64 percent in terms of on-ground sponsorship (Rs 110 crore to Rs 179 crore). Indian Super League’s (ISL) sponsorship increased by 22 percent from the previous year.

“The gap between Pro Kabbadi League & Indian Premier League [cricket] TV ratings is narrowing - PKL delivered 1.5 TVR with 312 million reach and IPL delivered 2.7 TVR with 411 million,” the report said.


Graphic: 'Sporting Nation in the Making-V' report: ESP Properties/ SportzPower

Team Sponsorship was up by 17 percent – from Rs 700 crore to Rs 819 crore.

Graphic: 'Sporting Nation in the Making-V' report: ESP Properties/ SportzPower

Captain Virat Kohli led from the front with 19 brands and Rs 150-plus crore worth of endorsement value. Badminton star PV Sindhu led the non-cricket endorsement space with 11 brands and over Rs 30 crore worth of endorsement value. Yet, cricketers got total of 90 brands whereas non-cricket athletes got 78 brands endorsements.

Graphic: 'Sporting Nation in the Making-V' report: ESP Properties/ SportzPower

"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, has given sports sponsorship enjoyed a bull run," Vinit Karnik - Business Head, ESP Properties said.

Finally, media investments on sports grew by 16 percent from Rs 3,511 crore to Rs 4,065 crore. These were driven strongly by television, which grew 43 percent, from Rs 2,367 crore to Rs 3,379 crore. On digital, investments growth has largely been on the back of cricket with other sports contributing to a smaller share, the report noted.

Graphic: 'Sporting Nation in the Making-V' report: ESP Properties/ SportzPower

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 12 percent contribution to the overall ad spends are from sports sponsorship alone. ESP Properties is the the sports & entertainment arm of global media investment management company, GroupM.

“With the 2017 momentum and the economy also looking up and set to grow at 7.3 percent 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 that provides real pointers to where the industry is going over the next few years,” Thomas Abraham, Co-Founder, SportzPower said.

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