With IPL Suspended, Uncertainty Looms Over Startup Sponsors Though it is unclear whether the players will be paid in full for almost half-run IPL edition, it is not less than a nightmare for the sponsors who have been pumping in large volumes of money in the tournament

By Debarghya Sil

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The most celebrated and watched twenty overs cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), has come to an abrupt halt. The 14th edition of IPL was being played in a bio bubble environment as the second wave of the pandemic batters the whole nation, leaving people to gasp for oxygen.

Though there has been a long discussion over social media whether it is morally right to continue the IPL when the country is breaking records in terms of number of deaths, it has served as a distraction for a few. However, as the bubble has been breached with many including Sunrisers Hyderabad's Wriddhiman Saha, Delhi Capital's Amit Mishra and players from Kolkata Knight Riders, among others, testing positive for COVID-19, BCCI had no other option but to suspend the season indefinitely.

Though it is unclear whether the players will be paid in full for almost half-run IPL edition, it is not less than a nightmare for the sponsors who have been pumping in large volumes of money in the tournament.

While there are some large, foreign and even listed companies such as VIVO, Havells Fan, Parle Agro, Tata who have grabbed the top ranks in sponsorship and will probably be able to cushion the impact, the worst hit would be few Indian startups.

It has become a trend that startups start rolling out their new series of ads just a few weeks before IPL starts. BCCI this year alone was expected to raise INR 4,000 crore from sponsorship. One brand that by now has caught everyone's attention with its out-of-the-box approach in terms of advertisement is CRED. Rahul Dravid's Indiranagar ka gunda hoon mein, is a treat for those who have seen "The Wall' rile bowlers with his impeccable defense. CRED is an associate sponsor for the event. It is reported that to win an associate sponsor, the company has to pay somewhere between INR 65-70 crore.

It has to be further noted that most of the startups that are sponsoring IPL this year have recently entered the Unicorn club or will enter soon, after receiving big cheques from investors.

Dream 11, the first fantasy sports game platform turned Unicorn, had earlier won the IPL title sponsorship at the cost of INR 222 crore. However, for this season, it is a co-presenting sponsor, as the Chinese mobile manufacturer won the title sponsorship race.

Byju's, the largest edtech company in India , and arguably the world's second-largest ed-tech platform, is also a co-presenting sponsor of the tournament. The company apparently paid INR 110 to 125 crore to clinch the co-presenting sponsorship.

Groww, an online trading platform that entered the coveted Unicorn club last month after raising $83 million, is also a sponsor for the event. Pharmeasy's parent company API Holdings' raised $323 million to become Unicorn is also a sponsor of the event. Apart from them, other startups such as Swiggy, MPL, Bigbasket, Boat, Unacademy, PhonePe among others have also won sponsorship rights.

It also has to be mentioned that a few of the startups have also sponsored some of the franchises such as PhonePe is a sponsor of Mumbai Indians, whereas MPL is a sponsor of Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Only time will unveil whether BCCI will refund a certain portion that it had collected from these sponsors, or these sponsors have to overlook the investment and move on.

*The article will be updated once there is an official announcement from BCCI about resuming the tournament or any clarity on how it responds to the sponsors

Wavy Line
Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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