The amount of money spent on sports sponsorship in India crossed the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2017, according to a report by advertising media company GroupM and sports business news website SportzPower.

Overall sports sponsorship in 2017 grew by 14% compared with the previous year, to Rs 7,300 crore up from Rs 6,400 crore in 2016, according to the fifth edition of the Sporting Nation in the Making report. Sports sponsorship also contributed to almost 12% of the overall advertising expenditure (Rs 61,263 crore) in India for 2017.

“While demonetisation and GST hit overall ad expenditure in 2017, the sports sector has been able to ride the storm with a steady and positive trajectory,” the report said. “All major sporting leagues managed to bring on board sponsors at a 100% or more incremental value for the title sponsorship. Specifically, the IPL has emerged as one of the top five most valuable global sports properties in the world.”

Here is the breakup of where money was spent on sport sponsorship in India last year compared with 2016:

Credit: Sporting Nation in the Making V

The drop in money spent on endorsements in Indian sport from Rs 476 crore in 2016 to Rs 395 crore in 207 was put down to the exit of global sporting icons Lionel Messi and Tiger Woods from Indian advertisements. Messi’s endorsement contract with Tata Motors worth Rs 60 crore a year came to an end after 2016, as did Woods’s deal worth Rs 50 crore a year with Hero MotoCorp.

Indian cricketers continued to rake in the endorsement money, though. India captain Virat Kohli drew more than Rs 150 crore last year from 19 endorsement contracts, followed by MS Dhoni (Rs 55 crore to Rs 60 crore from 13 brands). PV Sindhu leads the non-cricket athletes, earning more than Rs 30 crore from 11 brands. Indian cricketers were associated with a total of 90 brands whereas non-cricket athletes as a whole were only contracted with 78 brands.

Credit: Sporting Nation in the Making V

On-ground sponsorship grew by a healthy 14.7% from Rs 1,165 crore in 2016 to Rs 1,337 crore last year. On-ground sponsorship, which includes central advertisement contracts, for Indian cricket crossed the $100 million mark for the first time last year.

Indian football, meanwhile, saw almost a 64% increase in on-ground sponsorship, thanks to the Fifa Under-17 World Cup and Hero MotoCorp renewing its title sponsorship of the Indian Super League in a deal worth $25 million over three years – a phenomenal jump of 196% from the previous contract.

On-ground sponsorship in other sports, including kabaddi, dropped last year. This was put down to the absence of big-ticket events such as the Olympics and the Kabaddi World Cup. However, Chinese electronics company Vivo did sign a Rs 300 crore contract to be the title sponsor of the Pro Kabaddi League for five years.

Credit: Sporting Nation in the Making V

Media spend accounted for the biggest chunk of sport sponsorship in India last year – almost 56% of the total. Media spend last year grew 15.8%, from Rs 3,511 crore in 2016 to Rs 4,065 crore in 2017. It was driven strongly by television, which grew an incredible 42.7%, from Rs 2,367 crore in 2016 to Rs 3,379 crore in 2017, the report claimed.

Advertisers in sport also seem to be moving from spending their money on print to digital. Media spend in print plummeted from Rs 874 crore in 2016 to Rs 356 crore last year, while that in digital rose from Rs 270 crore to Rs 330 crore, according to the report. The media spend in digital has been largely on the back of cricket, the report added.

“With the 2017 momentum and the economy also looking up and set to grow at 7.3% in 2018-’19, sports is looking at an even bigger year,” said Thomas Abraham, co-founder of SportzPower. “In the media firmament, while new revenue benchmarks are expected from television, it will be traction in the digital arena that provides real pointers to where the industry is going over the next few years.”