MUMBAI: Brands in India are expected to take advantage of increased opportunities to associate themselves with movies and a range of sports in 2015, according to a new report.

GroupM ESP (Entertainment and Sports Partnerships) highlighted ten trends that it expects to affect this market in the year ahead, led by a blurring gap between the sports and entertainment categories.

The past year has seen the launch of a number of sporting leagues, from football to kabbadi, which will expand the existing ecosystem well beyond cricket, which is still the country's leading sport.

As well as brands sponsoring specific teams, each sport will provide its own star players, thus increasing the pool of celebrities available to serve as brand ambassadors.

Few emerging sports stars, however, will be in the league of MS Dhoni, whose recent retirement from Test cricket saw industry observers wondering how his endorsements of more than 20 brands, at a total cost of around Rs150 crore, might be impacted.

Only the biggest brands – including Pepsi, Star Sports and Reebok – can afford to be involved at this level. New sports leagues will offer smaller brands a chance to tap into this marketing approach, which is increasingly focused around digital channels.

"2015 will see a change in the way consumers interact with the sports and entertainment category," said Vinit Karnik, GroupM ESP national director.

"Sporting entities will evolve by building digital and social assets to drive their valuation and brands will increase [the] role and usage of celebrities as influencers, especially across digital assets," he told

He also predicted that newer sporting franchisees and leagues would use new media to build an audience: "With [the] immense focus on digital rights of sporting leagues, digital video sites will be competing with television broadcasters for eyeballs in the near future."

Among the non-sporting developments the report noted were new avenues for traditional licensing, such as branded real estate, and the use of fictional TV characters as brand ambassadors.

Data sourced from, Livemint; additional content by Warc staff