Fantasy sports major Dream 11 has bagged the title sponsorship rights for the 2020 edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) for Rs 220 crore (Vivo had bagged the rights for five-years at Rs 440 crore per year). While Dream 11 is an Indian start-up, a significant stake -10-13 per cent, as per the company sources — is owned by Tencent, a leading technology major from China.

Dream11 is an Indian company founded by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth. The firm paid ₹222 crore for the title sponsorship of the 13th edition of the league to be played in UAE from 19 September. Earlier this month, Vivo and BCCI mutually decided to pause their association following anti-China backlash.

An associate sponsor of IPL since 2018, Dream11 outbid Tata Sons, Unacademy and Byju’s who also placed bids for the sponsorship. On 14 August, BCCI received expression of interest (EoI) from five companies — Tata Sons, Patanjali Ayurveda, Jio, Byju’s and Unacademy– for four-month long sponsorship of the T20 league.

Almost 15-40 per cent of the franchise revenue comes from gate collections, which also has dried up as IPL 2020 will be played in empty stadiums this year.

“Both the BCCI and the franchises will have to work extremely hard to get local sponsorship and on-ground advertising revenue. TV advertising itself has dropped, around 4,000 advertisers have abandoned TV. Even though IPL 2020 is expected to have a record growth in viewership it is unlikely to translate into advertising revenue as advertising in the new normal is de-linked from viewership. In such a situation, it will be extremely difficult for the franchises to get ad revenue for their local pool,” explains former Vice-President of Star Sports, Anirudh Kalia.

Dream 11’s Rs 220 crore investment in IPL 2020 is indeed a huge relief to the BCCI and the cricket franchises, which are struggling to make ends meet this season with their sponsorship appetite extremely low amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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