By: Yohan P Chawla
It is common knowledge that the Adex in the Indian sporting arena is mainly driven by cricket. ESP Properties, the Entertainment and Sports division of GroupM, has released the latest edition of its much awaited report which covers sports sponsorships in India. The ESP Properties India Sports Sponsorship Report 2019, entitled ‘Sporting NationIn the Making VI, states that sports sponsorship in India has grown to a whopping INR 7762 CR in 2018. Of this, on-ground sponsorship was at INR 1,603 CR – a healthy 20% growth over Rs 1337 CR last year. An important point to note has been what Vinit Karnik of ESP Properties describes as a massive slowdown in the non-cricket areas.
Karnik, Business Head of ESP Properties, told me, “We are seeing a massive slowdown in the non-cricket economy, there are a few of leagues which have not happened — to name a few Hockey India League, Premier Futsal, Super Boxing League, Cue Slam, and PI Power Racing.”
While elaborating on the reasons for the slowdown in the non-cricketing sports, Karnik said, “There are multiple reasons for the slowdown in the non-cricketing economy, and these are my personal views, I feel most of these leagues have gone the IPL route, which is eight franchises, home and away concept etc. Hence every sport is not cricket and every league is not IPL. Every sport has its unique offering, not every sport is television friendly and all leagues have gone the broadcast route.”
Football sponsorship too has de-grown by 17% from INR 179 CR to 149 CR. However, Karnik said, “While Football sponsorship has de-grown, ISL’s sponsorship has not.”
But the reason is not a worrisome comment on the popularity of Football. Because, as Karnik said, “In simple words, Football is not equal to ISL. Football has de-grown because the under-17 FIFA World Cup didn’t happen in the year 2018; it happened in 2017, so on the larger like-for-like one will see a slight downfall on football.”
85% of sports Adex is on TV, Digital has seen massive growth of 44% riding on OTT platforms such as Hotstar and Sony LIV primarily because these two platforms have the major rights chunk Indian cricket, IPL, FIFA World Cup etc.
Numbers for the growth in cricket on-ground sponsorship in India grew by 34% from INR 669 CR to INR 899 CR. IPL central sponsorship contributed to revenues of more than INR 600+ CR in 2018 with a growth of about 155%.
While the adex is obviously led by cricket and IPL in particular, Kabaddi too is growing. The sport has registered an overall growth of 31% from INR 114 CR to INR 150 CR in one year. With support from the Odisha Government, India hosted the Hockey World Cup in 2018 which gave advertisers another way to reach out to their target audiences, this is seen as a trend going forward as state governments will invest in sports.
The report also highlights the Athlete brand endorsements which have seen a growth of 22% from INR 395 CR to INR 482 CR. Cricket endorsements have grown by 21% from INR 323 CR to INR 392 CR. Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni together share a pie of about 66% of total brand endorsements. Cricket contributes 9.81% of total brand endorsements.
About the top non-cricket stars, Karnik said, “PV Sindhu is a highlight star of our emerging sports economy with endorsements over INR 35 CR, which is fantastic. Basically Virat, Dhoni and Sindhu are playing athletes and that’s the reason we have specifically named them.”
“The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, who have retired from the sport, are immediately behind the playing athletes in terms of ranking. 133 Brands signed up with Cricketers and 86 Brands signed up with Non-Cricket Athletes. There is a very healthy base of advertisers who are investing into top sporting athletes.”