Star India rakes in over Rs 100 crore from ISL Season 2 sponsorships

MUMBAI: When the Indian Super League (ISL) launched last year with the ‘Let’s Football’ tag line, it created a significant buzz across the country. With many a ‘firsts’ like having Nicolas Anelka dribbling on Indian ground and Indian spectators getting an opportunity to witness living legends like Luis Garcia, Del Piero and Robert Pires playing in front of their eyes, 410 million people in India echoed ‘Let’s Football’ with Neeta Ambani and Star India CEO Uday Shankar.


That said, the big looming question was: Was football a revenue generating asset for broadcasters? There is virtually no time for a single advertisement in either of the two 45 minutes halves, and in an era where constant partial attention is at its peak, for viewers to stick to same channel during half time break seemed to be an unrealistic proposition.


Nonetheless, as the saying goes, “Where there is a will there is a way!” The second season of ISL, which kicked-off on 3 October on Star Sports, has already brought the broadcaster in excess of Rs 100 crore in revenue from multiple brand sponsorships.


While before the season began, it was speculated that Star Sports head Nitin Kukreja and his team raked in close to Rs 97 crore excluding revenues from digital broadcast from ISL season 2, the figure has now crossed the Rs 100 crore mark.


A source close to the development tells, “The last minute inclusion of Servo as a sponsor has made the Rs 100 crore landmark look possible. The way Star has sold the inventory is an example for the industry. There were so many new avenues that opened up. If we include digital revenues, Star has easily crossed the Rs 100 crore mark.”


Hero Motocorp, as the title sponsor, pays close to Rs 20 crore per year to Star. Apart from that, the channel has Maruti Suzuki, DHL, Pond’s Men, Gatorade, Flipkart, Servo, U Quit I Quit, Hewlett Packard, Puma, Volini, The Muthoot Group, Amul, Manyavar and Imperial Blue as advertisers in its kitty.


DHL, the official partners of Manchester United and Bayern Munchen, has also joined hands with Star India to be the logistics and time partner. As a part of the partnership, DHL gets presence on the screen that shows time on ground.


Speaking to, DHL India country manager and senior vice president R S Subramaniam says, “Last year’s performance and prominence of the league was the main reason behind us joining the league. It is a one year deal that we have signed and we may renew it in the future too.”


Mumbai City FC CEO and CAA Kwan COO Indranil Das Blah adds, “The league has kicked off to a flyer. Once the TV numbers are out, we will have a better understanding of the scenario. Overall, the on-ground interaction has gone up and so has the sponsor’s interest.”


Mumbai City FC also witnessed a 20 per cent growth in terms of revenue generation as per sources.


“Sports no longer is a sport on screen now. It’s all about packaging and Star, first with Pro Kabaddi League and now with ISL, has proved that smart packaging can make every sport lucrative. Revenue generation was never a concern this season. The concern was with expectations. Last year, ISL was a surprise. Now there is a burden of expectation and if the tourney fails to meet expectations, it would be considered as a flying bubble,” a senior media planner says on condition of anonymity.


While it remains to be seen if the tournament will help India in becoming a footballing nation but the revenue created from the sport certainly creates new benchmarks. No doubt proper packaging and smart monetisation can make every sport lucrative.

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