MUMBAI: Indian cricket is gearing up for a show of strength and whatever happens between now and the next 72 hours will determine the size of the game’s financial muscle in the country, especially in the middle of an unrelenting pandemic.
The BCCI has decided to expand its official partners in the Indian Premier League (IPL) from three to five – looking to bring two additional partners at an average commitment of Rs 40cr each – and are aiming to raise anywhere around Rs 300cr in the wake of Vivo’s exit.
Further, TOI understands, the cricket board is zeroing in on a “substantial deal” and could end up throwing a surprise by the end of the week where the title rights are concerned. “There’s chatter about Amazon, Byju’s, Dream 11 being in the race. But expect BCCI to spring a surprise,” say those tracking developments.
Considering the deal will only be for a four-month window, anything in the given range will be heralded a huge victory not just for Indian cricket but in the global sports industry.
With a Chinese company opting out for this year and causing a Rs 450cr deficit in the sponsorship market, industry executives insist “it is now a matter of prestige for India Inc to show that its most valuable property – Indian cricket – can sustain”.
Vivo India was committed to pay the BCCI an approx. Rs 440 crore for five years after coming on board in 2018 but find itself out this year due to external factors. At around Rs 300cr, the board will succeed in making up for at least 3/4th of the loss brought about by Vivo’s exit. The question doing the rounds in India’s fledgling, but energetic sports industry is “can that kind of money be raised in a year devastated by Covid?”
The fact that the new title sponsor will get only a four-month rights window – until December – for any brand activation or purposes of obvious discernibility, makes the task all the more challenging.
Industry sources say BCCI has received verbal commitments from e-learning app Unacademy and credit card payment platform Cred to come aboard as official partners, subject to the title bid. “If Byju’s attempt to bid for the title rights succeed, Unacademy will have to make way or make a higher bid,” say those in the know.
E-learning app Byju’s, ecommerce giants Amazon and sports fantasy platform Dream 11 continue to be in the race. “Byju’s have saved money this year on the Team India jersey rights simply because Covid wiped out all cricket since March. They are exploring this space primarily because they’re sitting on that kind of cash. Dream 11 have been big in cricket sponsorships. But it is Amazon that will turn this game, if they come to the table,” sources add.
And then again, there are those who believe the cricket board “is yet to reveal all its cards” and that there’s another big name willing to come aboard.



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