Indian sports sponsorship crossed Rs 9,000 cr in 2019: GroupM’s ESP Properties

Overall growth in sports sponsorship in India was a healthy 17 per cent, where the sports sponsorship industry crossed the Rs 9,000-crore mark in 2019, revealed the 2020 report on sports sponsorship in India released by ESP Properties, the entertainment and sports division of GroupM India. 

2019 was the year for Cricket and dominated the sports advertising sector unanimously. IPL and ICC World Cup gave a push in both on-ground sponsorship and media spends. On-ground sponsorship grew by 25 per cent for the first time, crossing Rs 2,000-crore mark. Overall industry upsurge was Rs 1,347 crore, of which Rs 800 crore was contributed by media spends alone growing at 18 per cent. 

Digital shot up by a whopping 84 per cent, from Rs 475 crore to Rs 875 crore. While TV continues to grow as the biggest medium for ad spends in sports, brands are also having a clear digital plan along with a presence on TV to build a rapport with their consumers by reaching out to them in more ways than one. Engagement and interactivity are important elements of consumer marketing, and digital technology can be leveraged well to give differentiated solutions to sports lovers. The year 2019 also saw fantasy sports applications growing fast as advertisers and this traction will be carried forward into 2020 also with new experiences for the Indian sports fan. 

BCCI home series deals saw double the jump in sports sponsorship amounts. Paytm’s bid was at 58 per cent incremental value in comparison to the previous per match value. Dream11, Lafarge Holcim (ACC Cement and Ambuja Cement), Hyundai will be the official sponsors for the next four years. At Rs 2.59 crore per match, the three sponsors will layout 73 per cent more than the previous round. 

Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties, said, “Indian sports industry is on an upward trajectory, breaking new grounds year-on-year. While cricket proved its dominance in 2019, overall the last 5 years the industry has doubled its size. If we look further, we can see a strong CAGR of 12.8 per cent in the business of sports over the last 10 years, making it one of the strong pillars of the Indian economy. With the sports industry growing at 17 per cent in 2019, the momentum on sports with added thrust from the government provides a holistic opportunity for the sector. Initiatives like Khelo India and Fit India movement are drivers towards making India a truly sporting nation.” 

Prasanth Kumar, CEO, GroupM South Asia, added here, “Over the last decade, we have witnessed the growth of sports leagues and their gaining popularity across the country. The sports industry has been growing and has witnessed a significant upward shift in the overall ad spends. The passion and excitement that’s involved in this platform have only strengthened. We see more and diverse audience indulging with this platform. Many innovations and leverage of assets in this space are powerful opportunities. As we are unfolding another decade, we see this space to be providing powerful thrust for greater brand stories.” 

Endorsement industry 

The endorsement industry grew by 11 per cent, where cricketers contributed the most yet again validating the point that sports leagues and celebrity endorsements go hand in hand. In 2019, 70 new brand endorsement deals had happened. 50 out of 70 endorsements were done by cricketers. While 85 per cent of total brand endorsements have come from cricketers, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni pulled away 63 per cent of the total brand endorsements. A total of 329 endorsement deals took place, out of which 228 brands signed up with cricketers. 

The non-cricketing space was dominated by women athletes. Badminton queen PV Sindhu was the leading non-cricketing athlete in 2019 in terms of brand endorsements. While Sindhu added four brands to her portfolio, the most notable one among them was her tie-up with VISA that made her the first Indian athlete to endorse the financial services brand. 

Mary Kom was another prominent name in the list of brand endorsers. While she brought glory for India at international boxing events, she also added four brands to her tally. Adding to their list of brands were track & field sensation Hima Das and Olympic Medallist Sakshi Malik too. All the women athletes added 11 new brands in 2019 takes the tally to 45 from 34 in 2018.


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