Press Release

Cricket’s grip on sponsorship weakens but sport is still king: GroupM

16 April 2015

Sports sponsorship revenue sees growth of 10% in 2014 on the back of increasing interest in new sporting leagues.

A file photo of an Hockey India League match. On-ground sponsorship revenue for all sports rose even as cricket’s share dipped 8% on account of fewer matches being played in India in 2014. Photo: Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times
Sports sponsorship revenues in India grew 10% in 2014 toRs.4,809.6 crore, largely driven by interest in new sporting leagues including the Indian Super League (ISL), Hockey India League and the Pro Kabaddi League, even as cricket took a beating.
The findings are part of a report jointly published by GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of GroupM, a media buying agency which is part of WPP Inc. and SportzPower, a sports business news company.
Vinit Karnik, business head, GroupM ESP, attributes this to the emergence of what he calls a multi sport viewing audience.
Indeed, cricket saw a dip in on-ground and team sponsorships, accounted for a smaller slice of overall league revenue, and even witnessed a decline in brand endorsement deals by top players with several retiring or being dropped from the Indian team.
Not that the new leagues are profitable; the numbers only show “that this is the beginning of money being invested in sports outside of cricket”, said Karnik.
New sports leagues registered a revenue of Rs.434.4 crore in 2014. There were five new leagues born in the course of the year—the Indian Super League, the three-way joint venture between IMG, Reliance and Star India; the Pro Kabaddi League, conceived and delivered by founder-promoters Charu Sharma, sports commentator, and Anand Mahindra of the Mahindra Group; the International Premier Tennis League, promoted by tennis doubles ace Mahesh Bhupathi; the Champions Tennis League, headed by former Indian great Vijay Amritraj; and the World Kabaddi League.
All the leagues mirrored the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) successful Indian Premier League (IPL).
Meanwhile, on-ground sponsorship of cricket dipped 8% to Rs.464.7 crore in 2014 from Rs.508.3 crore a year ago as the total number of matches played in India went down from 21 in 2013 to only eight in 2014, stated the report. Overall on-ground sponsorship revenue for all sports increased fromRs.756.8 crore to Rs.794.8 crore despite this, on account of others, including football, marathons, and tennis.
Cricket also saw a fall in team sponsorship revenue from Rs.389 crore toRs.348 crore on account of fewer matches, although the overall team sponsorship revenue increased from Rs.432.7 crore to Rs.493.6 crore. Franchise fees in cricket (IPL) and hockey (IHL) remained constant atRs.489.3 crore and Rs.30 crore, respectively, but the emergence of new leagues saw the overall franchise fees rise to Rs.675.5 crore from Rs.550 crore.
Still, cricket accounts for the lion’s share of the 50% of the overall sports sponsorship revenue of Rs.2,518 crore that came from TV advertising during sports broadcasts. TV spends grew 11%. It was also a FIFA World Cup year, so Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, which operates the Sony brand of channels, the host broadcaster for the mega sporting event, earned Rs.100 crore from ads and sponsorship.
The year also saw the first big-ticket signing of a sporting personality from a game other than cricket. Hero said it would pay Rs.50 crore a year for a four-year deal with golfer Tiger Woods. Cricketers saw their endorsement fee fall to Rs.255.7 crore from Rs.360.5 crore on account of a fall in the number of deals for Sachin Tendulkar, M.S. Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
Still, despite the emergence of new leagues, cricket will continue to rule the roost, said the report.
An expert agreed.
“Other sports are on an upward trajectory and the bridge between other sports and cricket is slowly closing in. But it would be naive to think any of these sports would be close to what cricket is for the next decade or so,” said Indranil Das Blah, chief operating officer, Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions.
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