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    The Sponsor’s Paradise

    It was in the year 2007 that our perception of cricket changed forever. For those who cannot understand what the conversation is about, in this year, the concept of IPL was launched, leading to a revolution in Indian Domestic Cricket. 

    Today, 12 years later, the Indian Premier League has ushered a new multi-million dollar era for the sport. And money and IPL have been synonymous, with sponsorships being the highlight of every IPL season.

    BUT WHY?

    It is evident in history that cricket has been an excellent platform for advertisers to connect with consumers because the game’s reach and popularity is hidden from none. And opportunities as big as IPL cannot miss brands’ eyes.

    THE WAVE OF SPONSORSHIP

    Back in 2008, DLF, Indian’s biggest real estate company, paid a whopping sum of Rs. 200 Crores, to possess the title rights for the first five years of the tournament. However, after that, DLF decided not to renew its contract. 

    In 2012, Pepsi bagged the new title sponsorship deal for 396.8 crores, almost double the initial sponsorship deal signed back in 2008. However, in 2015, the beverage giant too pulled out from the five-year deal. This was also the time when the match-fixing scandal struck hard and there was widespread uncertainty about the tournament.

    In 2016, Vivo, in order to secure glorious title rights, signed a huge contract worth Rs 2,199 crore, translating to Rs. 440 crores spread over 5 years. However, the world’s richest cricket league hit a roadblock as India was gripped by the pandemic and, IPL 2020, which was earlier scheduled to start on March 29, was postponed indefinitely. India’s contracting economy made it impossible for the market to “support and sustain” a league that’s all about big bucks. 

    STARTUPS MAKING THE NOISE

    On September 19th, just one month before the league’s start, BCCI roped in Dream11 as the title sponsor for Rs 222 crore, which is a far cry from what IPL typically draws. The industry appreciated Dream 11 for “the steal”. Along with Dream 11, the Sequoia-backed gaming startup, Mobile Premier League (MPL) also became the ‘official sponsor’ for Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

    But at a time when there’s talk of extending the cash runway all-around, does it even make sense for startups to spend on such a costly league?

    Seems like it does. With an audience of over 300 million viewers, IPL offers instant and large-scale visibility to brands. Irrespective of whether the audience buys the product or not, the continuous ads on TV, and it’s very own partner Hotstar (premium) do create an impact on the minds. And since most of these are in the spending period and are well-funded by deep-pocketed investors, these investments might make sense for these startups. 

    However, for conversion, the brands need to relentlessly create awareness to change the mindset of the consumers from the “not-for-me” or the “i-am-not-interested” zone to the “let-me-try-that-once zone”. And, since these startups have limited history and a fragile balance sheet, their inability to make a reasonable Return on Investment (ROI) from the investments might result in them not being able to continue these deals. 

    But seldom in India has anything related to cricket depreciated in value. Cricket is moving on, and moving east, in pace with the world’s economy. 

    So, IPL with the world’s top players together with a humongous amount of pleasure, glamour, music promises to own all the glitz and glamour of a Bollywood classic.

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