A month before the start of Season 13, the Indian Premier League got a new title sponsor. Fantasy gaming platform Dream11 acquired the title sponsorship for the IPL 2020 with a bid of Rs 222 crore. Sources said there’s a possibility that the Dream11 contract may “continue” through 2021 and 2022 as well if Vivo remains out of the picture. However, the final word from the BCCI is awaited on this.
It is learnt that Dream11 edged Unacademy in a close contest for the title sponsorship of September 19 to November 8 Season 13. The latter reportedly bid around Rs 210 crore. BYJU’S, the other bidder, reportedly offered around Rs 150 crore.
IPL-Dream 11 deal Explained: Rs 217 crore less, and Chinese connection stays
Tata Sons, it is learnt, withdrew and didn’t submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), as the company’s proposal to block three categories related to its business interests was not agreed to by the BCCI.
Vivo’s title sponsorship is currently “suspended” for the upcoming edition of the tournament that would be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from September 19 to November 10.
The BCCI needed a new title sponsor for the 2020 edition of the tournament after Vivo, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, suspended the contract for this year following a public backlash against Chinese companies amid the ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute. Interestingly though, Dream11, a fantasy gaming platform, too, has a Chinese connection.
The gaming platform, which is said to have 100 million users, has Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd as one of its financial backers. Dream11 is also the IPL’s online fantasy league partner and the BCCI is stressing on the fact that, Chinese investment notwithstanding, it is an Indian company.
“It’s an Indian company. I mean there are so many companies that have Chinese investment. There are Bigbasket, HDFC and many other companies. So what are you going to do about it?” IPL Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel told The Indian Express.
At its meeting on August 2, the governing council had decided to continue with Vivo and other China-linked commercial partners. But following a backlash, BCCI and Vivo decided to suspend the title sponsorship for this year. A one-line BCCI press release had said: “The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Vivo Mobile India Pvt Ltd have decided to suspend their partnership for Indian Premier League in 2020.”
Apart from Vivo and Dream11, the IPL’s Chinese connections include Paytm, a payments company and the league’s official umpire partner, having investment from Chinese entity Alibaba; and Swiggy, the IPL’s associate sponsor, having attachment to Tencent.
Once Vivo’s contract was suspended and the BCCI invited the EOI for the 2020 IPL’s title sponsorship, the apprehension even within the cricket board was that a market reeling under a Covid-forced economic distress might not be able to throw up a replacement sponsor with a substantial sponsorship amount.
In 2018, Vivo acquired the IPL title sponsorship for Rs 2,199 crore in a five-year deal. Accordingly, the company was paying the BCCI Rs 439.80 crore annually. Dream11, on the other hand, is forking out Rs 222 crore. It means that the BCCI would be getting Rs 217.80 crore less from the IPL’s title sponsorship this year. The Board, however, is “happy” with the sponsorship amount it’s getting.
“In the short time, we are happy that we have got Rs 200-plus crore, because this is only for this IPL and the contract is valid till December. I think it’s a good bid,” Patel told this paper.
The validity of Dream11’s sponsorship contract until December means that if, for any reason, IPL-13 needs further postponement/deferment, Dream11 would still be its title sponsor until the end of this year.