NEW DELHI: An increasing number of brands in India are looking to tap into the growing opportunities to engage with consumers via sports properties.

"I think there is a realisation that more and more sports are growing in this country," said Nitin Kukreja, CEO, Star Sports.

"Whether it's kabaddi, which is now at a completely different level, ISL (Indian Super League), or badminton, we are witnessing increasing sponsor interest in sports as a category," he told Afaqs!

That reflects the efforts of broadcasters like Star and the appetite among the public for more sports than just cricket.

For example, Minute Media, which operates the fast-growing, contributor-driven football content site 90min, has just launched into India, where there are 170m fans, 20m of whom are active on social media.

"We see a tremendous need to provide brands, publishers, and fans with a platform to generate and share football-related content across web, mobile and social based channels," explained CRO Asaf Peled.

Kukreja stressed the importance of association with a particular sport as being a key factor for any sponsor.

"Whether it's cricket, or any other sport, what is essential is to build association for sponsors with a sporting event," he said.

"Think how Barclays is associated, or rather recalled as a sponsor of the English Premier League. The advantage with PKL or ISL is that we provide the association both on and off ground, and across screens as well. That's the value we provide to sponsors in terms of sheer associations.

"It's not about the ad rates, but it's about how one can get a disproportionate share of voice by associating with a sports event," he added.

A brand analyst highlighted the scale of Star's ambitions for the latest Pro Kabbadi League, observing that its marketing indicated a belief that it could win over general entertainment audiences in Hindu-speaking markets: "This clarifies PKL's positioning as a mass event," he said.

Data sourced from Afaqs!, Minute Media; additional content by Warc staff