HomeSports 2.0KreedOn Case StudyIndia’s Sports Fever: Unveiling the Meteoric Rise of Sports Popularity in India
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India’s Sports Fever: Unveiling the Meteoric Rise of Sports Popularity in India

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From the very beginning, sports have been an integral part of Indian culture, tradition, and entertainment. In the past decades, India has encountered many significant sports achievements leading to increased opportunities in sports marketing and branding as well. One cannot deny the fact that cricket continues to dominate the sports landscape but, we can sense that today sports in India are out of cricket’s shadow. Kabaddi, football, badminton, and hockey are other sports gaining popularity in India. 

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India, traditionally had a non-sporting culture, with cricket being the only major sport that gained significant attention and hindered the growth of other sports industries. However, in the past years, there has been a noticeable shift in this trend. The Indian sports landscape is now expanding beyond cricket, embracing a wide array of sports. This shift has led to increased participation, viewership, and the growth of various sports-related industries.

Some of the Popular Sports in India


sports popularity in India | KreedOn
Image Source: Hindustan Times

Cricket is played in every nook and corner of the country, and absolutely it holds the title of being the most popular sport in India. India’s success in international tournaments, such as the ICC Cricket World Cup and the Indian Premier League (IPL), has accelerated the popularity of cricket. IPL has particularly contributed to the growth of cricket in India. The league attracts the world’s best cricketers, bringing together a blend of international talent and local stars. The popularity of cricket and the IPL have opened up numerous opportunities for sports marketing and branding. The sport’s huge following and passionate fanbase make it an attractive arena for brands to connect with consumers, upgrade their brand visibility, and forge enduring associations in the cricketing landscape. 

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Pro Kabaddi League | sports popularity in India | KreedOn
Image Source: Deccan Herald

Kabaddi has become the second most popular sport in India with the emergence of world-class players in the field. The country’s traditional game has gained significant momentum due to the creation of national and international leagues and tournaments. Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has played a great role in uplifting the sport and bringing it into the mainstream. The league has brought many kabaddi players to light, some of them are Pradeep Narwal, Anup Kumar, Ajay Thakur, and there are many more on the list. The league’s format, energetic gameplay, and star players have earned a wide audience across the country. This popularity has attracted sponsors and increased the marketability of kabaddi players

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sports popularity in India | KreedOn
Sunil Chhetri, Image Source: India Today

Football has seen a lot of struggle in a country dominated by cricket. But, the time has changed and the sport has managed to earn millions of fans throughout India. Players like Christiano Ronaldo and Messi have their names on the tip of every football fan’s tongue. However, Indian football players are still not recognised as they should be, people are just busy following international stars. Indian footballers like Baichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri have played a crucial role in popularizing the sport. With the rising popularity of football in India there are significant opportunities for sports marketing and branding. Brands can sponsor football clubs, players, or leagues to enhance visibility and connect with the passionate fan base. With the growth of football as a sport it presents ample opportunities for sports marketing and branding allowing companies to tap into the immense potential of India’s football-loving audience.

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Saina Nehwal
Image Source: Times of India

Badminton has indeed witnessed a remarkable rise, with several Indian players achieving International success. Some notable players like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, and Kidambi Srikanth have won medals in major tournaments including the World Championship and Olympic games. Their achievements have not only contributed to the nation’s glory but have also increased the visibility and popularity of the sport.  With a growing fan base, Badminton has provided a lucrative platform for sports marketing and advertising. India now has been hosting major badminton tournaments, including World Championship and BWF World Tour. These events attract globally top players, which eventually generate media coverage, and provide a platform for brand exposure. 

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Image Source: Hindustan Times

Hockey as a sport has indeed experienced a significant growth in popularity in India. It also presents significant opportunities for marketing and advertising. Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams have shown remarkable performances in International competitions, including the Olympic games and FIH Hockey World Cup. The National team’s achievements create a positive image of the sport and offer brands an opportunity to associate themselves with the pride and passion associated with Indian Hockey. As the sport is popular, Broadcast Partnership also offers opportunities for brand exposure during live matches and pre/post-match analysis. Hockey holds a special place in the hearts of many Indians, so by aligning the brand with hockey, companies easily tap into this emotional connection to build a positive brand image. 

Factors Contributing to Sports Popularity in India

Image Source-iPleaders

The surge in sports popularity in India in recent years can be attributed to various contributing factors. Here are some key elements:

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Triumphs in International Competitions

India’s remarkable performances and achievements in prestigious international sporting events like the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and Asian Games have significantly fueled the rise in sports popularity. Noteworthy accomplishments by Indian athletes have captured public attention and ignited enthusiasm for a wide range of sports.

KreedOnAlso Read: Sports Marketing | The evolution of the relationship between brands & athletes

Expanded Media Coverage

sports popularity in India | KreedOn
Image Source: Yoair Blog

The proliferation of media platforms, including television channels, digital streaming services, and social media, has brought sports closer to the masses. Extensive coverage of sporting events, athlete interviews, and in-depth analysis have helped cultivate a larger fan base and generate heightened interest in diverse sports.

Growth of Professional Leagues

Image Source- Business Standard

The emergence and success of professional sports leagues such as the Indian Premier League (IPL) in cricket, the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), the Indian Super League (ISL) in football, and the Premier Badminton League (PBL) have garnered a significant following. These leagues have provided a platform for domestic talents, international players, and captivating competitions, contributing to the surge in sports popularity.

Increased Corporate Investments and Sponsorships

The influx of corporate investments and sponsorships in sports has provided crucial financial support, infrastructure development, and professional training opportunities for athletes. This has resulted in improved performance levels and greater visibility for various sports, consequently attracting more fans and followers.

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Promotion of Grassroots Initiatives and Sporting Culture

The Rise of Sports Popularity in India | KreedOn

Dedicated efforts to promote sports at the grassroots level, including school programs, community initiatives, and governmental support, have nurtured budding talents from a young age. Additionally, the development of a sporting culture that celebrates and encourages participation has created a conducive environment for athletes to excel and gain recognition. Khelo India has been instrumental in transforming people’s perception of sports, bringing about significant changes in their mindset.

Moreover, visionary entrepreneurs have introduced innovative models such as “Sportz Village Schools” (formerly known as EduSports). These models facilitate the adoption of sports education in schools, acting as catalysts in discovering and nurturing fresh talent that will represent India on global platforms.

Inspirational Athlete Icons and Role Models

The rise of highly accomplished and influential athletes such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Mary Kom, PV Sindhu, and many others has served as a tremendous source of inspiration for millions of Indians. These sports icons have not only achieved extraordinary feats but have also become role models, motivating young individuals to embrace sports and strive for excellence.

Together, these factors have contributed to the significant surge in sports popularity in India, fostering increased participation, viewership, and overall growth in the sports industry in recent times.

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Rise of Sports Industry in India

The Indian sports industry witnessed a remarkable growth of 49% in 2022, reaching a valuation of Rs 14,209 crore. Additionally, sponsorship revenues soared by an impressive 105%, amounting to Rs 5,907 crore.

One of the major factors in the steep growth of the sports industry is due to the rising consumption of sports content. The rising viewership directly influences many markets, including sports advertising, sponsorship, and CSR.

Future of Sports in India

An Overview of the Indian Sports Industry
Image Source:

India is swiftly emerging as a promising market for sports, with the industry experiencing remarkable growth across all sectors in recent years. The country boasts millions of passionate sports enthusiasts, and this number is projected to surge even higher with the escalating viewership of sporting events on television.

Recognizing the immense potential, the Indian government has made substantial investments in athletic infrastructure and training facilities. These efforts aim to cultivate a new generation of athletes and sports professionals in the years to come.

Khelo India, a government initiative, has played a significant role in transforming people’s perception of sports. By supporting athletes during their school years, it instills a sense of motivation and encourages them to pursue a career in sports. The program provides an annual scholarship of 5 lakh rupees for a duration of 8 years, enabling young players to develop their skills from an early age and offering crucial financial assistance to nurture our future sporting heroes.

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In conclusion, the growing popularity and success of cricket, kabaddi, badminton, and hockey in India have created a thriving ecosystem for sports marketing and branding. With a massive fan base, passionate supporters, and a growing economy, India offers abundant opportunities for companies to connect with consumers and create meaningful associations with the world of sports.

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