Trouble seems to be the best friend of this year’s Indian Premier League with COVID-19 pandemic and tension between India-China, both giving tough times to the organisers. BCCI, the governing body for cricket in India and IPL is in a split over IPL 2020 title sponsorship. 13th edition of the T20 cricket tournament is set to go live from 19 September 2020 but with Vivo dropping out of the sponsorship deal, it has become difficult for the organisers to fetch new title sponsors.
Meanwhile, the threat possessed by COVID-19 pandemic is also hovering in minds as teams resume practice before the season kicks off. BCCI is now looking at different avenues to sponsor the title deal that fetched over USD26.7 million if Vivo has been in place. It has invited Expression of Interest from parties that are willing to sign for the title deal.
According to an analysis, while many firms are eligible and competent to sponsor the deal, most of them might stay away from it due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Loss of business and revenue has also forced companies to NOT to look for heavy marketing options like IPL. However, there are still some contenders for the bid.
Indian consumer goods company and ayurvedic giant Patanjali has expressed interest in the title sponsorship of IPL 2020. The company, which is one of the fastest-growing FMCG brands in India, will now participate in the bidding process to attain rights for the sponsorship.
Online retail king Amazon has never participated as a sponsor in any big sports tournament but the situation might be different in India. With Diwali around the corner, Amazon will be eyeing huge visibility as it can get to revive its sales and operations to pre-Coronavirus levels. According to sources, the company is even considering a long-term contract with IPL where they will be title sponsors for this season and official sponsor until 2025.
India is one of the biggest consumer markets in the world. Multinational beverage brand Coca Cola may also leverage the IPL opportunity to increase its market share in India and other countries. IPL has become more of a global event than just a cricket league. With nations and global brands eyeing the tournament, big corporations would want to feature on the prime spot to get attraction amid COVID-19 crisis.
Emirati multinational real estate company Emaar Properties may also express interest in the bid for IPL 2020 title sponsorship. The company has a strong footprint in India and is looking to expand its business and reach in the country and rest of the world. IPL 2020 could be the perfect opportunity for Emaar to mark its hold in Indian market.
Paytm is a central partner for IPL and also the title partner for Indian Men’s cricket team’s home matches. The company could look to expand its advertising portfolio with IPL by opting for title sponsorship, rather than being just a central partner. However, BCCI may face some flak if Paytm is onboarded as title sponsors due to its investment links with China. Amid rising India-China tensions, people have started demanding removal of entities that have even stakeholders from China.
Ed-tech startup BYJU’s is currently BCCI and Indian Cricket’s Jersey partners. It is being considered as a big hope in replacing VIVO as title sponsors for IPL 2020. But like many other firms, some stake in the company is owned by Chinese investors making it prone to serious social media outrage.
Unacademy is a direct competitor of BYJU’s and hence would be eyeing to hold a top sponsorship spot in a major sports tournament to complement its viewership. According to sources, Unacademy has already placed a bid with BCCI for the title sponsorship and would be actively participating to negotiate a contract before BCCI closes the deal on 18 August 2020.
With Vivo keeping the window open for the IPL 2021 title contract, the deal which is expected to be signed this month will stay only for IPL 2020 Title Sponsorship rights. However, it may become an attractive opportunity for organisations as it is expected to be rolled out at a discounted price than what Vivo paid.
Some media reports suggest that several top firms have already placed bids between USD10 million to 13 million, less than half of what Vivo was paying IPL for the sponsorship rights. In absence of crowds at stadiums, these sponsorships are among the limited sources of income for BCCI. Absence of a ‘good deal’ for the organising body can make the future of IPL uncertain. While the decision is still unclear, let’s hope to witness the similar enthusiasm of IPL this year.