Expert Speak: After World Cup, advertisers’ hopes remain cautiously high for FIFA, PKL & other sports

Sports AdSpends

India’s journey at ICC World Cup 2022 might have been cut short but hopes for Sports AdSpends and marketing remain high. Experts predict that homegrown tournaments like PKL and global ones like FIFA, OTT sports streams & e-sports could carry a lot on their shoulders.

India, over the last decade, has become a sporting hub, with home-grown sports leagues like the Indian Premier League, Pro Kabaddi League, and Indian Super league gaining popularity across the world. Simultaneously viewers, OTT platforms, and brands – all have shown increasing interest in international sporting leagues such as FIFA. Sports marketing AdSpends too have gone through some changes.

Taking Stock of the Sports Marketing AdSpends

In 2021, the size of the Indian sports industry spends surpassed INR 9,500 crore, as per ESP’s Sporting Nation report. The media spends on cricket in 2021 were close to INR 5,657 crore, higher than the overall media spends of 2019 which was at INR 5,232 crore. The spending on sports celebrity endorsement also grew by 11% last year.

This year, ESP is optimistic about seeing 2022 racing ahead of 2021 and crossing the INR 10,000 crore mark.

During Diwali, the nail-biting match between India and Pakistan at the T20 world cup garnered over 1.8 crore viewers on the digital streaming platform Disney+Hotstar. This year, not only have the stadium spectators returned in huge numbers but exhibitors like PVR and Inox have reported large visitors, too. 

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Non Cricket Sports Pick Up

While India’s journey at ICC World Cup 2022 might have been cut short, hopes for sports marketing still remain high. Other sporting leagues such as Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Premier Badminton League (PBL), FIFA, Wrestling, and Tennis are expected to attract more brands this year. 

So far, Football League, which offers global reach to Indian brands, has attracted sponsors like Viacom18’s Sports18, JioCinema, Visa, Cake Zone, Black & White, Mahindra, BYJU’s, ET Money, Amul, intel, SBI, Spartan Poker, and AM/NS India. 

Sharing which other sporting leagues have gained more popularity, LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research said, “The sports other than Cricket that are getting more interest from brands are Badminton (89% growth in count of advertisers in Y 2022 over Y 2021), Golf and Basketball (40+% growth in count of advertisers in Y 2022 over Y 2021), Tennis and Kabaddi (around 30% growth in count of advertisers in Y 2022 over Y 2021).”

Krishnan told Social Samosa that in the last two seasons of PKL, ISL ICC T20 WC, and FIFA, there has been an ad volume growth of more than 50%. With ICC T20 WC bringing in the lion’s share, now he expects to see growth in ad inventory this year too. 

N Chandramouli, CEO of TRA Research, said, “Cricket continues to take the lion’s share of the advertising revenues. That said, other sports like Kabaddi are gaining momentum, and due to the exciting nature of the sport, have also gained a lot of audiences.”

Suraj Nambiar, National Media Head, Tonic Worldwide highlighted that PKL can give brands a chance to reach out to regional audiences 

“For a brand focusing on Tier II and Tier III markets, PKL is also picking up. Apart from that, we have Europe Football League matches and Netflix’s new documentary F1 also has given a boost of users,” said Nambiar.

FMCG, e-commerce & FinTech Lead Sports Marketing AdSpends

Every year, traditional categories such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies and automobiles loosen their purse strings to invest in sports but this time, the industry has seen new categories too. 

As per TAM’s Krishnan, Ecom-Gaming, Ecom-Food/Grocery, Ecom-Other Services, Durable sector (Air Conditioners) and BFSI (ATM Services/Debit Cards) have been prominent spenders during sporting events this year. 

“This year we will have a lot of e-commerce players and fintech players who have entered sponsorships. Since the pandemic, EdTech has also seen a growth in spending,” said Nambiar. 

Young users flock to OTT

With growing interest in other sports, viewing patterns have also changed. Now, young users are consuming content on OTT. 

“Generation Z i.e. digital native generations are consuming their sports content, not via traditional media but through social networks and digital channels,” said Krishnan. 

As a result, new advertising formats are emerging.  

“Live Sporting programs are relatively high Reach generating Content properties and Advertisers are now willing to pay higher CPRPs/CPMs to ride these events to build Top of Mind Brand Awareness quickly,” added Krishnan. 

However, television and print still hold the same amount of importance in clients’ budgets in India.

Ashish Bhasin, Co-founder & Chairman of RD&X, said, “Digital and OTT is definitely growing. In fact, it’s the fastest-growing part of our advertising industry. However, that doesn’t mean the importance of television is going down. India is one of the few countries in the world where it’s not about TV or digital. It is TV and digital. There is enough scope for all media for quite a few more years to come. But there is also no doubt to the fact that the fastest-growing medium by far is digital.”

A Nielsen Sports 2022 report outlines viewing patterns have changed globally. 40.7% of global sports fans now stream live sports through digital platforms. Sports viewership has become a multi-screen experience, with 47% of people who watch sports simultaneously interacting with other live content, increasing by 5% over the last year.

E-sports To Contribute More To Sports AdSpends

Within digital, the vast potential of the E-sports market has not been exploited yet. As per a report by EY, the esports industry scaled to INR 3 billion in FY2021 and we expect it to reach INR 11 billion by FY2025. 

“There is an untapped market of E-sports where the country’s youth is. While it is not regulated. Platforms like YouTube and Twitch get millions of views from users for live and non-live games. There are E-sports celebrities that people follow. Very few brands have focused on E-sports,” said Nambiar. 

EY’s report also says that as esports grows popular amongst youth and the affluent, advertisers and agencies are expected to increasingly use e-sports tournament viewership to gain reach and engagement with the audience, growing over 4x to Rs 6.5 billion by FY25.

Chandramouli also said that the young generation will define the future of sports marketing. Marketers, therefore, need to take OTT and E-sports more seriously. 

He said, “OTT advertising is still considerably subtle and non-intrusive, and the acceptance of advertisements on the initial screen is getting more acceptable. OTT will accelerate faster than other mediums in the next couple of years.” 

He further explains that while traditional sports are also viewed, there is also a growing trend of e-sports, which most of this generation has been born into. “While the others are fixed viewers of sports, Gen Z will determine the future of sports in the coming years.”

Sports is one such engagement platform that offers great returns and engagement. While cricket might continue to hold all the aces, the sports marketing industry is gearing up for an exciting drive ahead and its future is only going to get better.