Women athletes score big in sponsorship deals

In 2015, endorsements from non-cricketing sports increased 90 per cent, from Rs 22.1 crore to Rs 42 crore, with Nehwal, Mirza and Mary Kom accounting for a major chunk. The figures, however, are still incomparable with that of cricketers, with Virat Kohli breaking the Rs 100-crore barrier in endorsement deals.

Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal and M. C. Mary Kom account for 40 per cent of non-cricket individual athlete sponsorship money.   -  PTI

Cricket may be a male-dominated sport, not just in India but across the globe. But when it comes to non-cricketing sport stars, it is the women athletes that are stealing the limelight, not just on the field but off it too.

A research paper produced by sports industry experts has stated that three female sport stars – Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and M. C. Mary Kom – account for 40 per cent of non-cricket individual athlete sponsorship money.

“It indicates the sheer potential for growth in the individual in this segment. All the three athletes are brilliantly engaged on the social media platforms, so that also plays a huge role in establishing themselves as a brand,” said Vinit Karnik, Business Head, ESP Properties.

Karnik was speaking after releasing the India Sports Sponsorship Report, jointly prepared by ESP Properties, the entertainment and sports wing of Group M, and Sportzpower, specialists in sports business news.

In 2015, endorsements from other sports increased 90 per cent, from Rs 22.1 crore to Rs 42 crore, with Nehwal, Mirza and Mary Kom accounting for a major chunk. The figures, however, are still incomparable with that of cricketers, with Virat Kohli breaking the Rs 100-crore barrier in endorsement deals.

“The emerging sports, that is non-cricket disciplines, is where the growth is going to happen. Cricket is large, it’s huge, so that is where the growth will happen organically. But the real change will be when something like an Indian Super League in its seventh or eighth or 10th season grows from a Rs 100-crore league to maybe a Rs 1,000-crore property,” said Karnik.

Despite the emergence of alternate sports as a business proposition, thanks to the emergence of franchise-based leagues in kabaddi, football, hockey, tennis and wrestling, cricket continued to be the big draw. According to the report, the negative publicity surrounding the Indian Premier League didn’t really hamper the revenue surrounding the league, both in terms of on-air and on-ground sponsorships.

While the telecom and vehicle manufacturers decided to diversify from cricket into other leagues, cricket was helped with the entry of three new sponsors.

“Key brands that drove the cricketing upswing were Paytm, CEAT Tyres and MRF Tyres with a combined inflow of around Rs 107.8 crore per year, increases the cricket spends by 14 per cent,” stated the report.

“On ground sponsorship for cricket in a year when IPL was the only big bang cricketing event grew 30 per cent from Rs 794.8 crore to Rs 1,030.5 crore. Despite the bad publicity and the shadow of the Supreme Court looming over the BCCI, IPL viewership and engagement was unaffected. The property grew by a solid 13.9% in 2015.”