MUMBAI: Fantasy games company, Dream11, with a bid of Rs 2.22 billion will be the title sponsor for the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which will be played in the UAE from September 19 due to the ongoing global pandemic.
For few days now, there have been reports indicating that the Tata group was the front-runner in the bid for the rights. But it has been confirmed that Dream11, already a sponsor with BCCI, will be title sponsor in place of Vivo, the mobile brand. IPL's title sponsorship for the 2020 season went up for grabs after Chinese smartphone major Vivo pulled the plug on its rights deal, for which it was paying the BCCI Rs 4.4 billion per annum.
After Vivo's exit, on August 10, BCCI had invited EOIs from interested parties in acquiring the title sponsorship rights for the period from August 18, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The turnover of any interested party had to be over Rs 3 billion as per the last audited accounts.
Besides Dream11 and the Tata Group, education technology platform Unacademy, Reliance Industries Ltd-owned telco Jio, yoga expert 'Baba' Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved, and online tutoring unicorn BYJU'S were said to be in the race for the IPL title rights. However, in the final round only four bids surfaced: Dream11, Tata Group, Unacademy, and Byju's.
In an important clause, the BCCI had clarified that it would not be obliged to award the Rights to any bidder which indicates willingness to pay the highest fees in the course of discussions/negotiations with BCCI after submitting an EOI. BCCI’s decision in this regard would also depend on a number of other relevant factors, including but not limited to, the manner in which the third party intends to exploit the Rights, and the potential impact of the same on brand IPL as also the fan/viewer experience, which will be examined/ evaluated by BCCI in the course of discussions/negotiations with interested third parties who submit an EOI.
But the fees seems to have been the main criteria as the other bids were said to be lower with Unacademy bidding Rs 2.10 billion, Tatas Rs 1.80 billion and BYJU'S Rs 1.25 billion.
Why is this of importance? It bears recalling that the BCCI had to jettison Vivo over the China connection. Well Dream11 has Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd as one of its major financial backers. So while the BCCI is stressing on the fact that Dream11 is an Indian company, whether the country's hyper-nationalistic Internet warriors will play ball remains the big concern for all those entities that have "skin" in the IPL game.