MUMBAI: Media spending was the biggest single driver of the Indian sports sponsorship market in 2016, increasing by almost a quarter and accounting for over half of the total, new data has shown.

According to a report from by GroupM's ESP and SportzPower, total sports sponsorship in India rose 19.3% in 2016 to reach Rs 6,400 crores (or 11.5% of all advertising expenditure). And within that, media spend was up 24.6% to Rs. 3,510.8 crore – an additional Rs 693.9 crore.

Among the other categories, team sponsorship grew most, up 25.3% to Rs 699.6 crore, followed by endorsements, up 14.4% to Rs 476.4 crore, and on-ground sponsorship, up 13% to Rs 1165.2 crore; franchise fees lagged in growth terms, edging up 1.2% to Rs 548.

As ever, cricket featured prominently, with the country hosting the ICC World T20 tournament in addition to the annual India Premier League extravaganza.

The latter competition garnered Rs 1020.0 crore net in ad sales revenues for broadcaster Sony Pictures Network India – a 25% increase from 2015.

But non-cricket sports also contributed to growth as India hosted global events like the Kabaddi World Cup and the Junior Hockey World Cup during the year. And Rio Olympic medal winners PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik contributed to non-cricket endorsements growing by 83.5% to Rs 77.1 crore.

Vinit Karnik, business head, ESP Properties, described cricket as "the poster child for sponsorships" but added that there was plenty of scope for brands to "take a leap of faith and traverse new grounds".

He pointed to the growing sports audience among women and children and the success of league-based events across multiple sports. And he highlighted "the mushrooming of a very defined health and fitness consciousness within the country".

Thomas Abraham, co-founder, SportzPower, added: "We expect 2017 to only get bigger, not just on the back of growth from the leagues that are now up and running, but also from new kids on the block that are debuting in the year – table tennis being a notable one."

Data sourced from Campaign India; additional content by Warc staff