IPL title sponsorship might well throw up a pleasant surprise: Boria Majumdar

BCCI is all set to announce the new title sponsor for IPL on 18th August 2020.

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Aug 15, 2020 4:07 PM
Boria Majumdar

Much has been written about the IPL 2020 title sponsorship after Vivo recently announced that it will not be part of the franchise this year. Now the focus is on the apex cricketing body -the BCCI, which is all set  to announce the new title sponsor on 18th August.

When it comes to cricket, there are few who understand the game and its intricacies better than noted sports journalist, academician and author Boria Majumdar.

In this exclusive interview with e4m, Majumdar spoke about the coming together of India Inc for the title sponsorship this year, how the BCCI sees this as a matter of prestige and why IPL is more than just the star players.

Excerpts: 


Can the BCCI buck the trend yet again? 

That’s the most important question being asked in the corridors of Indian sport this independence day. With a number of leading Indian companies picking up the bid document for IPL title rights, there is every reason to believe that the tournament, yet again, will beat market estimates and spring a surprise. Having lost Rs 440 crore with the Vivo pull out for a year, many felt the BCCI will do well to make up Rs 200 crore in the current economic climate. 

Chances are it will do at least Rs 100 crore better (Total Rs 300 crore,  Rs 200 plus crore from the title sponsor and Rs 100 crore from two more official partners). And that’s what brings to light three fundamental truths. First, the support of India Inc behind Indian cricket remains resolute even at these times of uncertainty. A look at the companies and the local flavour becomes evident. 

If we talk about India Inc, which brands do you think will play a major role this year?

The Tatas, who are eyeing their first major foray into cricket since 2017, are an Indian giant with a huge global footprint. Not only did they fund the first Indian team to the Olympics in 1920, they have forever remained a constant in the Indian sports landscape. To see them step up at a time when the Prime Minister is repeatedly asking for self reliance is not surprising. 

Dream11 and Byju’s are two other leading brands that have picked up the tender, not to forget Unacademy, which is fast emerging as a major player in the digital education space. While Dream11, founded by two young Indian entrepreneurs and headquartered in Mumbai, now have a 8 crore plus Indian subscriber base, and is played only in India, Byju’s is a very Indian brand that has transformed the digital education space. 

Interestingly both have been associated with Indian cricket very closely and yet again have come forward to stand by IPL at a time of need. For Unacademy which is competing in the digital education space,  IPL is the best fast track to success. 

Has the title sponsorship issue now become a matter of prestige for the BCCI?

While it is a question of prestige for the BCCI, for these Indian companies with a deep interest in sport, protecting the IPL is a serious commitment drawing attention to the robustness of the brand.

I for one am not surprised. While many expressed doubts about BCCI’s ability to tide over what Sourav Ganguly has called a “blip” with Vivo pulling out for political reasons, not many have understood the deep power of the Indian cricket brand. 

With the IPL coming at a festive time, chances are it will be the most consumed television tournament ever. The fact that the host broadcaster, Star Sports, covers the tournament in 7 and more languages shows the deep rooted connect the tournament has with the remotest corners of India. And this deep connect explains the choice of companies that have picked up the tender. 

While the Tatas are omnipresent, Byju’s using digital technology now has a footprint in suburban India as well. For them the IPL, which is consumed by one and all, is the perfect launching pad for the next big leap. For their competitors, Unacademy, the IPL is an opportunity to enter every Indian drawing room. Dream 11 too is almost everywhere 8 crore Indians play the fantasy game and that ranges from the daily wage labour to the corporate CEO. Almost every Indian has a fantasy sports team, me included. 

With the title sponsorship announcement expected on Tuesday, what do you think would be the outcome?

In these circumstances let’s not be surprised, come Tuesday when the BCCI announces the next IPL title sponsor. To make a prediction- it will generate more than expected revenue and yet again make a strong statement, which will serve as an overall boost for the Indian sports industry. 

And while some have questioned the IPL and its move to the UAE such arguments are daft to say the least. The IPL is not about Virat or MSD. While we see them at the forefront, the ecosystem impacts the entire sports industry, which includes the broadcaster, media, state associations, sports goods companies, first class cricketers and more. 

Everyone has a stake and benefits from the monies generated and had the tournament not been held, it would have impacted lives and livelihoods dearly. Not so much for the front ranked stars but more for the people in the background who are all equal stakeholders in this competition. 

I am waiting with keen interest to see what happens on Tuesday. But to repeat one more time- don’t put it past the BCCI to spring a market defying surprise thanks to the support of India Inc. 

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