MUMBAI: Brands are seeing big opportunities with sports sponsorship in India to build brand awareness, with both tournaments and teams drawing a significant increase in investment.

While cricket remains hugely popular for sponsors, brands are also branching out into other sports, including the Olympics Games, Formula One, hockey and football.

According to The Business of Sport, a report from consulting firm KPMG and the Confederation of Indian Industries, the sector is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, as new sports leagues are set up, sports viewing numbers are rising among both men and women, and social media is enabling sports stars to connect with fans in a new way.

The sports sponsorship market continues to see strong growth on the subcontinent, growing 12% year-on-year in 2015 to reach Rs 5,190 crore. Broadcasting sponsorship rights dominate, making up 51% share of the overall market, followed by on-ground advertising at 19.8%. In the on-ground advertising category, cricket remains king, making up more than half of all spend.

The report cited the increasingly popularity of sports other than cricket, a higher number of sports-oriented startups and growing rural viewership as key drivers of growth in the sports sponsorship sector.

Amazon India aligned its brand with the Olympic Games this year, and Hero Motorsports – a long time presence in cricket sponsorship – has diversified into title sponsorship rights for both football's Indian Super League and the Hockey India league as well as its two high profile IPL teams.

Likewise, Sahara – the former longtime sponsor of India's national cricket team – has continued to invest in an IPL cricket team, Formula One racing and hockey.

Foreign brands also see sports sponsorship as a way to build crucial brand awareness. Chinese mobile phone brand Vivo, which is aggressively expanding in India, took over the title sponsorship of the enormously popular Indian Premier League from Pepsi, which helped the brand gain instant recognition in a highly competitive local market.

Data sourced from Television Post, Zee Business; additional content by Warc staff