SportzPower-GroupM ESP report says brands are looking beyond cricket

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 06, 2014
The report suggests that advertisers can spend their budgets on sports other than cricket, including football, basketball, contact sports, badminton, athletics, hockey and others.

Sports business news and knowledge provider SportzPower and GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of GroupM Media, have come out with a report that captures the trends and developments in the Indian sports industry from 2008 to 2013.


The report examines advertising investments in Indian sport from four angles - on ground, team sponsorship, athlete management and media - and offers a comprehensive overview of where the money is flowing in sport.

The key points that the study offers is that when it comes to money spent on sports in India, the reality is that it is mostly cricket, but certainly not all is spent on it. The other sports that are gaining attention here are football, hockey, badminton, golf, basketball and others.
The report adds that in coming years, the market will explode and a large amount of money will be spent on other sports, too. It is also a juicy opportunity for marketers to leverage on other sports.

In 2012, the share of non-cricket on ground sponsorship stood at 34.5 per cent, dipping to 32.8 per cent in 2013, ironically a year that saw the launch of two new IPL-style tournaments - the Hockey India League as well as the Indian Badminton League.

Marketers are pumping in money on football and a lot of brands have associated themselves with the game. Though it is still far away from its peak, most call it a sleeping giant as its potential is extremely high. Between 2008 and 2013, on ground sponsorship in football went up from Rs 85 million to Rs 142 million. Many experts have huge hope from the 2017 Under 17 World Cup that will be hosted in India.

Most experts believe that the problem with football in India has been the slow decisions of the bureaucracy and lack of proper attention on infrastructure, grooming of players, team managements and others.

It is interesting to know that the spends on marathon have gone from Rs 285 million to Rs 420 million in the same period. However, the story is not the same for golf and motorsports, which have seen a decline.

The growth of the sports business in this one-sport country is directly linked to the launch of the successful Indian Premier League in 2008. Cricket commands a huge popularity in India and a large number of brands have associated themselves with it.

Homi Battiwala, EVP, PepsiCo, says, "For us at brand Pepsi, cricket is one of the strongest youth platforms only after Bollywood, and football is emerging in India like never before. To measure the success of any campaign, tangible as well as intangible tools are available to marketers. We continuously evaluate our campaigns through a combination of each of these tools. We have in place regular tracking tools which are run by renowned research agencies like Nielsen/IMRB that help us quantify the impact of sponsorship on brand salience, equity and share movements by triangulating media inputs. Separately we also use statistical modelling to triangulate Spends vs Impact to assess ROI."

Today an unrivalled opportunity in sports is there in India. The proof to the fact is that all major sports broadcasters are turning a head towards India. Brands are going in beyond the game, into University Cricket, local football tournaments, badminton and other tournaments. The year 2011 was a phenomenal year for sports broadcasters, with media revenue up by 50 per cent compared to the previous year on the back of India hosting (and winning) the ICC ODI World Cup as well as the IPL registering a peak year. The Indian Grand Prix 2011 was also very popular in India, with the inaugural edition delivering high ratings for the Formula One race.

Some of the major broadcasters are STAR, TEN Sports, Sony Six and these have already started strengthening their portfolios. The media spends around sports have been extremely high, to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore (2011), though in the last two years, it has remained largely flat. Most spends, though, happen on cricket.

Nitin Kukreja, president, sports, STAR, says, "Pockets of passion exist across the country for a variety of local sports, but these have never been tapped or harnessed in the way they should have been. Apart from cricket, sport as we know it was restricted only to international soccer leagues, motor sports and the like - no home grown, local sports leagues of the kind that exist in most other markets, most notably the USA. We matched intent with investment - thus the Hockey India League, Indian Badminton League, and Kolkata Football League made their debut on our channels in the last one year. Not only did this get significant support from viewers in all parts of the country, it has resulted in providing visibility of a whole new generation of players and talent across sports. Unlike previous years, a young talented sportsperson who is passionate about hockey, football or badminton sees a viable avenue to pursue their sport of choice, possibly make a career out of it."

Indian consumers are fast adapting to multi-platform digital consumption, which is expected to grow further as broadband becomes accessible (faster and cheaper), combined with cheaper smartphones and connected devices. India, with a large and growing digital literate population, has its unique challenges, but presents immense potential across several developing and underdeveloped sectors (sports, travel, online entertainment, healthcare, communication, government services, education) with windfall opportunities for growth.

Viewers today consume content on multiple screens beyond TV - the internet, the smartphone and the tablet. Prasanth Kumar, managing partner, GroupM India, Central Trading Group, says, "There is higher traction among digital audiences - 25 per cent higher viewership as compared to analogue audiences for sports channels."

While talking about the team sponsorships, cricket still roofs with the highest spend on it throughout the period. Football is picking up speed in the country but it has a long way to go if it wants to compare with cricket.

Sponsorship contracts are beginning to fly out of cricket but the road is very bumpy. While one can say that all 11 members of the cricket team definitely have a sponsor, the same is not true of all players of badminton, tennis, shooting or other games. Though Dhoni, Sachin, Kohli are stars but things are opening up for Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, Abhinav Bindra and many others who have got the country accolades. This has given a spurt to athlete management agencies.

Kumar adds sports investments have been trending the same as overall market TV ADEX (investments highly dependent on nature of the tournaments and the kind of teams participating). "With the advent of HIL, IBL, Indian F1, and the upcoming ISL, it augurs well for sports advertising in India. Shorter and newer formats would be the key drivers for growth for all sports (cricket, football, hockey etc). Promotion of these properties in a big way by both sponsors and broadcasters is likely to set the trend for non-cricket advertising spends in India," adds Kumar.

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