Leagues propel Indian sports industry to Rs 48,069 million in 2015: GroupM

MUMBAI: From being a country that thrived on a single sport namely cricket, India has come a long way in the last couple of years. The country witnessed a sports boom of sorts with the mushrooming of various sports leagues. And with that came in the moolah in terms of sponsorships and advertisements.

According to a report by GroupM ESP and SportzPower, the overall sports industry in India has grown by 10 per cent - up from Rs 43,725 million in 2013 to Rs 48,069 million in 2015. However, cricket saw a dip in on-ground and cricket team sponsorship. While on-ground sponsorship fell from Rs 5083 million to Rs 4647 million, team sponsorship was down to Rs 3478 million from Rs 3892 million.

The growth in the industry has come mainly on the back of the emergence of new sports leagues – Indian Super League, Pro Kabaddi League, World Kabaddi League, Champions Tennis League and Indian Premiere Tennis League. FIFA was the big factor for the increase in TV spends.

The second edition of GroupM ESP and SportzPower’s report on sports sponsorship captures the emergence of new leagues in India along with other key highlights. The report captures the trends and developments in advertising and sponsorship in the Indian sports industry in 2014.

Speaking on the future of sports marketing in India, GroupM South Asia CEO CVL Srinivas says, “Sports marketing is finally coming of age in India. Even though cricket has shown the way and continues to be the dominant sport, newer leagues are helping broad base sports and make it a great platform for brands. Digital, especially social media, is helping build a fan following much faster. At GroupM, we made inroads into sports marketing some years ago and are now scaling up our practice.”

The second edition of report examines:

  • Emergence of five new leagues in India.
  • Advertising investments and sponsorship in Indian sport from four angles: On-Ground, Team Sponsorship (subset franchise fees), Athlete Endorsement, and On-Air spends
  • Investments in sports besides cricket
  • 10 trends in the sports broadcast industry

Focusing on the key developments that are expected in 2015, GroupM ESP national director, sports & live events Vinit Karnik says, “The key highlights of this report are on-ground sponsorships, team sponsorships and franchise fees, social conversations and endorsements. The sports industry has grown by 10 per cent in 2014 and seen the formation of newer leagues and successful franchises. From a single sports country to a multi-sport country, India is witnessing a boom, which will benefit the sports business ecosystem. In 2015, we predict to see a change in the way consumers interact in the realm of sports and entertainment.”

SportzPower co-founder Thomas Abraham further discusses the future of sports broadcasting in India. “Other sports are emerging gradually with the onset of many new league styled sport events. Even though FIFA was a big factor in the increase in TV spends in 2014, cricket yet dominated Indian sports TV broadcasting with back to back cricketing sports tournaments like the World Cup and IPL, although there was a rise in viewership of other sports too,” he says.

Key Observations:

· From a single sports country to a multi-sport country; India is witnessing a sports boom.

· The entertainment value adds the necessary pull for the new leagues, as audiences are being offered a wide platter of sportainment that is being relished by one and all.

· Split beam: India being a diverse regional market with large linguistic preference, networks have begun to offer feeds in regional languages too. This will grow further with split beams leading to ad-versioning with even regional advertisers getting a slice of the pie.

· TV & Digital: The lines are now blurring. The ICC Cricket World Cup had more than 25 million views on digital. IPL is slated to surpass that in the current 2015 season.

On Ground

· Dip in cricket on-ground numbers are mainly due to lesser matches being held in India in 2014 - only eight cricket matches were played in India in 2014 vis-?-vis 21 matches in 2013. IPL also had no new central sponsor, resulting in a flat year for IPL ground sponsorship.

· New leagues contributed in driving the growth for on-ground sponsorship. While ISL had 10 sponsors at the central level with almost Rs 500 million sponsorship amount; Coca Cola – IPTL was the landmark deal.

Social Conversation

· IPL had over 550,000 social conversations. In spite of the first season, ISL had around 200,000 conversations. 

· PKL (70,000) has more conversation than IPTL (32,000) & HIL (11,000) put together, even though Kabaddi is the least talked about sports in India.

· Pepsi received 41 per cent visible mentions with IPL, whereas 29 per cent associated with Hero Moto Corp with ISL.

Team Sponsorship & Franchise Fee

· Indian cricket team sponsorship price was reduced to Rs 20 million/match from Rs 33.3 million/match with the new sponsorship of Star India. Also IPL 2014 team sponsorship money saw a dip in 2014 from Rs 2750 million to Rs 2537 million, because of the tournament partly shifting to UAE.

· Other sports have also contributed in growth of team sponsorship & franchise fee due to the new sports league. While Football registered a 227 per cent increase from Rs 265 million to Rs 603 million powered principally by the ISL, it was the emergence of other leagues - notably IPTL, CTL, PKL, and WKL that saw a spectacular 1,064 per cent jump from Rs 70 million to Rs 745 million.

· Social & search data depicts different trends for different leagues – while the popularity of IPL led the Search and Social data trends independent to each other; Social and Search data for the other leagues were almost parallel to each other.


· A 14 per cent dip was seen in overall sports celebrity endorsement from Rs 3822 million in 2013 to Rs 3278 million in 2014.

· While the new kids like Virat Kohli’s endorsement fee and number of endorsement brands are going up steadily, for the old boys like Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag, the number of endorsements and fee per endorsement have gone considerably down.

· Moving off cricket and the top earners are all women of substance. Boxer Mary Kom, tennis ace Sania Mirza and badminton queen Saina Nehwal (in that order) are the Big Three of Indian non-cricket sports brand endorsements.

· Tiger Woods endorsing Hero Moto Corp is first-of-its-kind in non-cricketing sports industry– Rs 500 million per year.

· Social & Search Data – While Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar were the most talked about & searched on digital media athletes in 2014; Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom and Sania Mirza are keeping the flame alive for non-cricketing sports.

Year 2015:

· Non-cricket sports are likely to expand the sports business ecosystem.

· Live match content is being repurposed in multiple ways to facilitate social consumption. This trend is slated to grow even bigger in 2015.

· Sporting entities will evolve by building digital and social assets to drive their valuation.

· Sports businesses are predicted to build strong grassroots engagement through experiential programs.

· In stadium experience will be more social and thus, more enhanced. Given that 70 per cent of fans bring a mobile device to the stadium or arena, they are expected to use it during a game too.

· Pro Kabaddi League is the one to watch out for!


In 2015, non-cricket sports are likely to expand on the lines of various trends all around. Live match content will repurpose in multiple ways to facilitate social consumption. Sports businesses will build strong grassroots engagement through experiential programs. In stadium experience will be more social, more enhanced, as a large majority of fans bring a mobile device to the stadium or arena and will be expected to use it during the game.

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