For the second time in 17 months, Chinese mobile-maker Vivo has exited the Indian Premier League (IPL) as title sponsors, and this time for good. Troubled by the political bickering that had first forced the company to opt out of the IPL ahead of the 2020 season, Vivo once again decided to exit because of the lack of traction they were getting out of the investment.
The BCCI have found a new title partner in the Tatas, and a deal has been signed for the 2022 edition, following which either renegotiations will take place or the BCCI will float a fresh RFP. “This is indeed a momentous occasion for the BCCI IPL as the Tata Group is the epitome of global Indian enterprise with an over 100 year old legacy and operations in more than 100 countries across six continents. The BCCI like the TATA Group is keen to promote the spirit of cricket across international borders, and the growing popularity of the IPL as a global sporting franchise bears testimony to the BCCI’s efforts. We are truly happy that India’s largest and most trusted business groups has believed in the IPL growth story and together with the Tata Group, we will look to take Indian cricket and the IPL forward to greater heights,” Jay Shah, honorary secretary, BCCI, said.
Vivo India had bagged the IPL title sponsorship rights in 2017 for Rs 2199 crore, committing to pay the league approximately Rs 440 crore every season, for a five-year deal. The mobile-manufacturer had earlier replaced soft-drink giants PepsiCo to enter the title sponsorship space after the latter walked out of a Rs 396-crore deal in 2016, allowing the IPL to earn an approximate 450% premium. The last time Vivo exited the IPL, BCCI said it took the general sentiment of the Indian cricket fans in absolute seriousness and was therefore willing to do away with a sponsor that was bringing an approximate Rs 440 crore per year to the IPL table as part of the central revenue pool.
Vivo had been looking for a partner to work out an exit route over the last six months but wasn’t able to find a replacement. Sources in the know say, “BCCI was absolutely fine in Vivo quitting the space as long as it ‘honoured’ the commitment by getting a suitable replacement on Board”. In fact, it is the BCCI that helped Vivo and Tatas come to an agreement this time around. “It is good for the brand IPL to have a name like Tatas on board. Now, whether Tatas were left with no choice but to oblige or they found a great deal here to enter is a different matter. What’s important is that it works very well for the league and we’re glad the BCCI managed to stitch one in good time,” industry sources say.
Just like its Chinese sister-concern and mobile-manufacturer Oppo had found a way out by selling the rights to Byju’s in 2019, Vivo too has done the same. While Oppo had found the deal unsustainable, Vivo had a separate set of reasons, borne out of the general political skirmishes between India and China. Born to Chinese conglomerate BBK Electronics, both Vivo and Oppo had bet big in the Indian cricket industry four years ago, when the BCCI had sold IPL title and Team India jersey rights to these companies at hefty premiums.
The IPL governing council or the BCCI is yet to share the details of the deal signed with the Tatas. The leading Indian corporate had shown interest in coming on board as title rights holders back in 2020 but eventually did not come to the bidding table. In fact, the present deal with the Tatas is the first in the last two years that an e-gaming or an e-education company — the ones flush with cash — did not come to the bidding table.
Industry sources wonder if it is a sign of times to come. “One would’ve expected an Unacademy or a Dream11 or a crypto-NFT company to come on board. But looks like either the BCCI has decided to keep some of these companies out or there’s a saturation point of sorts at the moment,” say those tracking developments.
The last time Vivo had exited the IPL, Dream11 had bought the rights for Rs 220 crore.