Sports leagues pull in big bucks

Sports sponsorships grew to a whopping H7,762 crore in 2018, of which the on-ground segment saw a 20 per cent growth; Cricket continues to rule the roost, bagging the lion’s share of brand spending

Published: 07th April 2019 10:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2019 10:40 AM   |  A+A-

IPL stadium

For representational purpose

Sports tournaments have always been money-makers, and in a cricket-crazy country like India, the gentleman’s game has always been the top dollar bet for brands seeking some exposure. A look at how sports sponsorships worked out over 2018 only reinforces the sport’s primacy over its peers in the country. 

According to a report by GroupM ESP Properties, all sports sponsorships grew to a whopping Rs 7,762 crore in 2018, of which the on-ground segment saw a 20 per cent growth year-on-year to Rs1,602 crore. But the cricket segment saw a 34 per cent growth in on-ground sponsorships, with the IPL central sponsorship alone accounting for over Rs 600 crore. 

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As for the Rs 892 crore worth of team sponsorships bagged in 2018, cricket teams bagged over 67 per cent at Rs 603 crore growing by over 16 per cent. Among other sports, Football, which had seen some traction through the Indian Super League (ISL) the previous year, saw team sponsorships fall 21.5 per cent in value at Rs109 crore. Kabbadi team sponsorships grew by just 2 per cent to Rs47 crore. 

Cricket also remains the undisputed king in attracting individual athlete endorsement deals. Of the Rs 482 crore worth athlete endorsements in 2018, cricket stars pulled in Rs 392 crore, with the others left to share a measly 89 crore amongst themselves. Two cricketers — Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni — bagged 66 per cent of total athlete endorsement spending by Indian brands in 2018. 

However, while cricket still rules the roost, experts say that the emergence of IPL-style tournaments in other sports like Football, Kabbadi and Hockey is set to see significant spending from Indian brands. “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 per cent or for the first time ever to Kabaddi registering a growth of 31 per cent, factors like these have given sports sponsorship a boost,” Vinit Karnik, business head, ESP Properties said. 

ISL’s widely spread out calender spanning six months is set to attract a significant number of brands to its banners, while Kabbadi sponsorships saw around 31 per cent growth in on-ground sponsorships. The Odisha government’s five-year deal with Hockey India has also given the sport a boost. Tata Motors, meanwhile, has become the principal sponsor for the Indian Wrestling tournament. With 2019 set to play host to large tournaments like the ICC Cricket World Cup, it could be an even more lucrative year. 

 A billion dollar biz

According to a report released this week, Sports sponsorships in India saw robust growth during 2018, with cricket still ruling the roost in terms of sheer money-pulling power. However, other sports like football and kabbadi are holding their own and are expected to do well in 2019. Here’s a look at how sponsorships panned out in  2018:

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