Sports sponsorship: Cricket rules on-ground, football steps up

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Even as sports sponsorships packed in a strong digital component in 2017, the on-ground sponsorship for all sports rose sharply too. And this is not just for cricket, football leagues and teams too benefited from the trend according to the fifth edition of the ESP Sportzpower report on sports sponsorships in India titled Making of a Sporting Nation V.


On-ground sponsorships continued to grow in double digits in 2017, growing by 14.7 percent while overall sports sponsorship grew at 14 per cent in 2017 over the previous year. On-ground sponsorships grew from Rs 11.65 billion to Rs 13.37 billion in 2017, led once again by cricket (Rs 6.69 billion, growing at 18.9 per cent), followed by football (Rs  1.79 billion) and kabaddi (Rs 1.14 billion)


The growth in on-ground sponsorship revenues in cricket came on the back of increased number of home matches played by Team India. Kohli and Co faced international teams in 34 games all told in 2017, exactly twice the number of home matches played in 2016. As for India’s Big Money league, there was no change in IPL Central Sponsorship, ergo revenues accrued—at approximately Rs 2.35 billion ($36 million)—remained unchanged.


Football showed maximum growth in attracting on-ground money at 63.8 per cent (2016, it was around Rs 1.1 billion), primarily on the back of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which took place in India and was aired on the Sony Pictures Sports Network. Football also received a fillip through the Indian Super League’s title sponsorship renewal by Hero MotoCorp. Already the title sponsor for the league, Hero retained the rights at a 196 per cent incremental value.


In contrast kabaddi saw a contraction, down 6.6 per cent over 2016. This despite that fact that Vivo took up the title sponsorship for Pro Kabaddi League at a 100 per cent increase of the right’s holder’s previous ask. Additionally, the emergence of new leagues such as Powerboat P1, Cue Slam and Ultimate Table Tennis added to the overall on-ground revenue pie.