19 Aug

The appointment of Dream11 as the title sponsor for the 2020 season of the Indian Premier League became official on Tuesday (18 August) following the formal approval from the IPL governing council.

Though the official media release from the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) didn't specify the winning bid, Brijesh Patel, the chairman of the governing council, had placed the sum at INR 222 crore ($29.7 million) when the bids were opened yesterday.

It could not be confirmed whether the BCCI had sought bids solely for the 2020 season or until 2022, when the Vivo contract was originally meant to end. Patel insisted that the Dream11 contract was limited to the 2020 season only. When asked what would happen if Vivo was unable to resume its partnership for the next season, Patel told ESPNcricinfo, "Then we will see."

The last-minute tender for the title rights for the IPL was necessitated by the withdrawal by mutual consent of Vivo, the Chinese cellphone manufacturer, following an armed border conflict between India and China in March this year.

Dream11, a fantasy gaming platform, is part of Dream Sports, a sports technology company started in 2008 by Indians Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth. It has been associated with the BCCI earlier, having been an official partner for the IPL since 2018 and Indian cricket since last October.

Both the BCCI and Jain, the chief executive officer of Dream Sports, made it a point to emphasise that Dream11 was an Indian company after questions arose about the company's Chinese connections. Tencent, the Chinese media conglomerate, invested $100 million in the business in 2018 and is listed as an investor on the company website.

BCCI said, "Dream11 (Sports Technologies Pvt. Ltd) is an Indian company" based in Mumbai. The release also mentioned Dream11 was "partnering" 19 sports leagues and six IPL franchises.

Jain said it was the "launch" of the IPL in 2008 that planted the seed of Dream11, which he called a "purely homegrown" Indian brand. "The launch of IPL in 2008 gave birth to the idea of Dream11," the BCCI release quoted Jain as saying. "As avid sports fans, we wanted to offer fantasy cricket to IPL fans to help them further engage with the sport they love and showcase their sports knowledge and skill.

"Being a proud homegrown Indian brand that is made in India, by Indians and exclusively for Indian sports fans, we would like to thank the BCCI for giving us an opportunity to become the Title Sponsor of IPL, which in our opinion is the world's greatest sports property."

John Stephenson


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