Digital assets’ utilization in sports sponsorships in India

The horizon is bright for Indian Sports Viewers. Over the last four years, the Indian Sports scene has witnessed a mushrooming of leagues other than cricket. For a country where cricket is a religion, it is nothing less than miraculous. However, for people studying and observing the trends behind the scenes, this is in no way harmful for the Indian Premier League (IPL), which continues to dominate the cash flow into the Indian Sports market.

“India with the population that it possesses, is an ideal market for multiple sports properties,” per “Sports Sponsorship in India in 2016 had grown 12.3% to INR 5185.4 Crores from INR 4616.5 Crores in the previous year. But as usual, the biggest kid on the block is the IPL. It has grown by 13.9% and contributes INR 529.50 Crores to the overall Sponsorship pie.”

Brands are now looking beyond the Television air-time that is guaranteed once they appear on the jersey on any IPL teams. Over the past few seasons, brands have been closely analyzing avenues to directly touch their target audience; something that is not always guaranteed via television based branding.

“As a brand, what we seek via a platform as big as the IPL, is an opportunity to engage with our target segment. The IPL as a sports property has attached millions of fans over a very varied diaspora has made which has made it all the more vital for us to leverage such opportunities,” explains the Marketing Head Honcho of a leading Mobile brand in the country who chose to remain anonymous. “Nowadays, the word ‘Sponsorship’ is getting replaced by the word ‘Partnership’. We consider ourselves to be partners with the team that we choose to tie up with.”

One such leading avenue riding the crest of a giant wave, are the varied digital extensions on offer. The IPL teams have aggregated millions of footprints on social media. Their numbers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are mind-boggling and are a potential gold mine for prospective sponsors. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on its Facebook page alone has over 15 million followers ; a number that substantiates the might of their reach.

Mobile devices have become a second screen for almost 65% of the people who ingest sports content. Social Media is now playing an enormous role in the way the audience is engaging with their favorite sports teams. If you are a brand and you want to reach out to a particular segment on Social media, you will have a invest a good chunk in order to get sustained returns. However, piggybacking on a Sports team’s digital reach is becoming a new channel for brands to register their impact.

This methodology has already been used in established global leagues like the English Premier League, where brands power select and high-performing digital assets like a full-time score or a team line-up. One such example is Nissan who have partnered with Manchester City FC. During every game, Nissan powers the Best Performer of the day posts on social media. This alone gives them a reach of close to 2 million on a day that Manchester City FC wins and an impressive return of 800,000 on a bad day.

Technology Companies like Strontium (an Indian Technology Hardware company) have waded into the digital waters and are experiencing the results first hand via their tie-up with KKR. Smartly tying in crowd engagement to raise awareness about their brands via KKR’s social media posts has seen their brand identity increase ever since the IPL has started.

Britannia 50–50 had also jumped onto the band-wagon and come up with hilarious gifs (moving graphics) based on the Royal Challenger Bangalore (RCB) players before every game in the last IPL . Tugging at the audience’s funny bones, these posts saw an average viewership of 100,000 for each individual post.

While companies like Facebook and Twitter are working very closely with teams and leaving no stone unturned to enhance their online viewership ; an amazing new evaluation segment is the allied digital assets like Sportskeeda , cricbuzz , Hotstar — which are taking viewership to a new level. Its no longer a game of “an additional screen” but also around mood, tonality and engagement expectations of the audience. Audience no longer wants to consume content, they want opinions — bite size content and tonality metrices — which these platforms provide — no wonder the user base is shooting close to triple digit millions.

Grab-as-you-want model in digital assets is fast gaining expectations of brands and offerings of leagues — and is set to grow exponentially. Are marketeers taking note ?

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -Sponsorships and associations are fast changing the landscape in India — stay tuned to the same.

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