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TV ad expenditure on sports up 12% to Rs 25.18 bn in 2014

MUMBAI: Led by FIFA World Cup, a cricket heavy calendar and the newly launched franchise-based leagues, television advertising expenditure on sports increased 12 per cent to touch Rs 2518 crore (Rs 25.18 billion) in 2014 compared to Rs 2250 crore (Rs 22.50 billion) a year ago, according to GroupM ESP and SportzPower’s India Sports Sponsorship Report 2015.

According to the report, the ad revenue for official broadcaster Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) cash cow Indian Premier League (IPL) saw a dip due to reduction in the number of matches from 74 to 60 (following the termination of the Sahara Pune Warriors franchise in 2013).

The report also noted that incremental accruals from Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), Champions Tennis League (CTL) and World Kabaddi League (WKL), as well as season 2 of Hockey India League (HIL), contributed to the overall pie.

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.

The lines between TV and digital are blurring. The cricket World cup had more than 25 million views on Hotstar and the IPL is slated to surpass that in the current season, the report stated.

Overall, the sports industry has grown by 10 per cent to Rs 4806.9 crore (Rs 48.07 billion) in 2014, from Rs 4372.5 crore (Rs 43.72 billion) a year ago. This has come on the back of new sports leagues – ISL, PKL, WKL, CTL and IPTL.

However, cricket saw a dip in on-ground sponsorship to Rs 464.7 crore (Rs 4.65 billion) from Rs 508.3 crore (Rs 5.08 billion) while cricket team sponsorship fell to Rs 347.8 crore (Rs 3.48 billion) from Rs 389.2 crore (Rs 3.89 billion).

The dip in cricket on-ground sponsorship numbers was mainly due to lesser India matches at home and no new addition to the IPL on-ground sponsorship list.

The new leagues, however, drove the growth of on ground sponsorship. ISL led the pack with as many as 10 sponsors at the central level with a value of Rs 500 million. IPTL had Coca-Cola as the title sponsor.

On the team sponsorship front, the Indian cricket team sponsorship price was reduced to Rs 20 million per match from Rs 33.3 million a match. Star India was the new sponsor. Also, IPL 2014 team sponsorship money saw a dip in 2014 to Rs 253.7 crore (Rs 2.54 billion) from Rs 275 crore (Rs 2.75 billion) a year ago due to the tournament partly shifting to UAE.

Other sports have also contributed to the growth of team sponsorship and franchise fee due to the new sports league. While football registered a 227 per cent increase to Rs 60.3 crore (Rs 603 million), powered principally by the ISL, it was the emergence of other leagues—notably IPTL, CTL, PKL, and WKL—that led to a spectacular 1,064 per cent jump to Rs 74.5 crore (Rs 745 million) from Rs 7 crore (Rs 70 million).

Said GroupM, South Asia CEO CVL Srinivas, “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 practise.”

SportzPower co-founder Thomas Abraham added, “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 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.”

Sports celebrity endorsement saw a 14 per cent dip to Rs 327.8 crore (Rs 327.8 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, 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 a year.

While Kohli, Dhoni and Tendulkar were the most talked about and searched on digital media athletes in 2014; Saina Nehwal, Kom and Sania Mirza are keeping the flame alive for non-cricketing sports.

The report also stated that the social and 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.

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) and 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.

The report also stated that the country is witnessing a sports boom from a single sports country to a multi-sport country. The entertainment value adds the necessary pull for the new leagues, as audiences are being offered a wide platter of sportainment.

In 2015, non-cricket sports is 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 programmes.

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.