Micromax, which recently won the title sponsorship rights for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for nine international games over seven months between 2014-15 (Micromax bags BCCI title sponsorship rights) was not only the only bidder, at Rs 18.01 crore (Rs 2.2 crore per match), its bid was only Rs 20,000 more than what was quoted as the base price in the invitation. Last year Star Sports had procured the rights for Rs 2 crore per match. Apart from the international matches, the deal also extends to other domestic cricket series played in the country.
Star’s title sponsorship deal which ended in March 2014, included branding and in-stadia advertising opportunities, which will be extended to Micromax. We reached out to Micromax to know how the brand planned to leverage this deal, but were unable to elicit any response.
So, what kept advertisers away from what has always been a coveted spot?
Bidders want long-time rights
Media reports quoted BCCI Secretary, Sanjay Patel saying, that the fewer bidders could be because of the weak economic environment and a shorter period of sponsorship rights, as compared to the three-four years earlier. It was also reported, that that once the BCCI finalised the series fixtures from 2016-21, it would send out tenders for longer sponsorship periods. This, Patel said, would put BCCI in a position to demand higher premium on sponsorship. There was also a mention of raising the current base price of Rs 2 crore.
Where are the big matches?
A senior cricket correspondent and author, on condition of anonymity pointed out that there is considerable uncertainty over the calendar after the West India series (which is a low value series). “Sponsorship is healthy only when India plays the big teams – England, South Africa, Pakistan and Australia. And after this season, there is no surety of when they will happen, as the ICC which is supposed to decide henceforth, has not taken any calls yet,” he said, adding that India and Pakistan are scheduled to play six series over eight years, but no one knows when they will happen.
The other, and perhaps more resonating reason for brands to stay away from cricket, could be the poor performance of the Indian cricket team overseas, especially the 3-1 loss in the test series against England. There could be some cheer when the West Indians tour India and our past record on home ground, but advertisers are definitely wary of betting big on the lack-lustre team.
Fall in base bid rates
The title sponsorship rights have declined considerably since 2010, when Sahara had paid Rs 3.34 crore per match, outbidding Airtel’s offer of Rs 2.89 crore per match. The BCCI base price for bids at that time was Rs 2.5 crore per match. However, after BCCI severed ties with Sahara in October 2013, the base bid rate were lowered to Rs 1.5 crore.
Though Sahara reportedly raised a bid of Rs 2.35 crore, much higher than Star Sports, the contract was awarded to the latter. At that time Sahara had claimed their bid was disqualified by the board due to the dispute regarding the IPL franchise and that the bidding process was ‘stage-managed’.