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Is cricket no longer the sought-after sport for advertisers in India?

Is cricket no longer the sought-after sport for advertisers in India?

According to an 'Economic Times' report, 2014 GroupM ESP study suggests sports like football, tennis, hockey and kabaddi are bridging the gap between cricket and other sports.

Cricket is not just a sport but almost a religion for India, home to over a billion people. The gentleman’s game has captured the imagination of millions of fans and ruled over their hearts for ages. However, the sport seems to be gradually losing its sheen to other sports that are slowly eating into its market share.

According to a report in the Economic Times, citing a GroupM ESP study, in 2014, sports such as football, tennis, hockey and kabaddi have gained popularity. GroupM ESP is the entertainment, sports and content arm of media agency GroupM.

Even as the sports industry grew at a good rate of 10 per cent, value of ground sponsorship – the money central sponsors in any sport pay to the organisers of a tournament – of cricket fell to Rs 464.7 crore in the year gone by from Rs 508.3 crore in 2013. The team sponsorship value – the money each team earns from selling the real estate on its apparel – floored from Rs 389.2 crore in 2013 to Rs 347.8 crore in 2014.

The report suggests that the 10 per cent growth – from Rs 4,372.5 crore in 2013 to Rs 4,809.69 crore in 2014 – in the industry is due to the surfacing of new tournaments such as the Indian Super League (football), International Premier Tennis League, Hockey India League, Pro Kabaddi League and World Kabaddi League, among other.

Vinit Karnik, national director of sports and live events at GroupM ESP, says the slide in numbers for cricket is mainly due to India hosting fewer international games as compared to 2013.

“But it is a fact that there was a price correction in the payouts to BCCI from title rights holders in 2014,” Karnik was quoted as saying in the report.

The decline of interest in cricket can also be gauged by the fact that the Indian cricket team’s sponsorship price fell from Rs 3.33 crore – as offered by Airtel in 2013 to Rs 2 crore per match, the money Star decided to pay in 2014. Also only two of the companies – Star and Micromax – showed interest in getting the rights as compared to the previous bidding cycle when more than 10 contenders were in involved.

However, contrasting trends are visible in other sports. Football gained a massive 227 per cent year-on-year increase in the value of team sponsorship from Rs 26.5 crore in 2013 to Rs 60.3 crore in 2014. This is majorly because of the emergence of the new league – the Indian Super League.

Sports like kabaddi and tennis witnessed an astonishing increase of 1,064 per cent in team sponsorship from just Rs 7 crore in 2013 to Rs 74.5 crore in 2014.

GroupM ESP suggests in the report that overall team sponsorship across all sports grew a healthy 14 per cent from Rs 432.7 crore in 2013 to Rs 493.6 crore in 2014, in spite of a 10.6 percent fall in cricket team sponsorship.

In 2014, non-cricket sports accounted for under than 30 per cent of the team sponsorship – a marquee increase as compared to just 10 per cent in 2013.

However, all the downward trends notwithstanding, the glitzy Indian Premier League (IPL) is still going strong and showing no signs of fading.

In spite of the controversies and courtroom battles that the league has seen in its short span of existence, the broadcasters of the cash-rich tournament, Multi Screen Media, are expected to make close to Rs 950 crore from the ongoing eighth edition with the international soft drinks giant Pepsi also committing to pay Rs 80 crore per year to get the sponsorship deal of the IPL.

Ruchira Jaitley, senior director-marketing (beverages) at PepsiCo India, says that cricket hasn’t taken any hit. “It’s just that the pool has expanded because of the emergence of other sports in India,” she says. “However, as other sports gain in popularity, Pepsi is seriously investing in kabaddi, soccer and hockey. This is also because international quality of programming has arrived in India,” Jaitly was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Indranil Das Blah, CEO of sports management firm Kwan, says “while cricket continues to be the mother ship, and will continue to be big, brands are slowly opening up to the potential of other sports, especially brands that don’t have massive budgets.

“The bridge is certainly forming. Five years ago, there were no options, three years ago there were a few options but now there are loads of options. So that gap is slowing being reduced between cricket and other sports,” he added.