MUMBAI: The Indian Premier League commands 74% of ad spend directed at sports leagues in India, according to a senior sports marketing executive.

Sundar Raman, CEO of Reliance Sports – and former COO of the Indian Premier League – revealed in an exclusive interview with Warc in Kuala Lumpur that while cricket casts a long shadow on the subcontinent, opportunities for brand sponsorship across other professional sports leagues are increasing.

"India is increasingly becoming a multi-sport destination, and that's our challenge in growth opportunity," Raman said. (For more details, read Warc's report: Cricket dominates sports sponsorship in India.)

"Whether it is cricket through IPL, or whether it is through Indian Super League football, or whether it is through pro kabaddi, the opportunity for (brands) to be engaging with consumers on a continuous basis is being provided by sport," he explained.

Only 4% of ad-spend in the sports category is being spent on in ground sponsorship – television captures by far the most spend from advertisers. However, as India's social media and digital landscape matures, marketers are also looking to connect with fans online.

Raman believes that digital will offer even more opportunities for brands to connect with India's passionate cricket fans as connectivity increases in the country.

"Brands need to be where the audience are, and where they are more actively engaged. Digital is a 'lean forward' medium. People want to be engaged in it, against the 'lean back' of watching television. I think editorial context will start to play a very, very critical role and will start to charge a premium in terms of the advertising dollars," he predicted.

"Marketers are evolving to the new landscape of digital as a part of the marketing mix... I believe this will only become bigger and bigger. The pressure on advertisers wanting to connect with the fans – the consumers – is going to become more and more with the increase in media costs."

Data sourced from Warc