11 Feb

Indian Premier League (IPL) title sponsor Vivo, the Chinese mobile phone maker, is reported to be looking to end its deal early. 

The Chinese mobile phone maker withdrew as title sponsor of the 2020 IPL in August, citing the coronavirus pandemic, however the withdrawal occurred amid a time of political tensions between China and India, after a military clash at the India-China border last June that saw 20 Indian troops killed. 

In spite of the political strain, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced its commitment to the sponsorship. The departure of Vivo as sponsor occurred only days after the IPL confirmed its schedule and that Vivo would be its title sponsor. 

The pull out by Vivo was initially meant to be for the 2020 IPL season only, however with political relations between India and China still tense, multiple Indian media reports claim the title sponsor of the league is looking to allocate the rest of its record 5-year contract to another brand. 

Vivo’s deal is reported to be worth Rs4.4bn ($60m) per year, the biggest sponsorship in Indian sport, and was to run from 2018 to 2022. 

“It’s almost final that Vivo will exit the IPL title sponsorship deal by mutual consent with the board. There is a clause that allows them to transfer their pending liabilities as one-time title sponsors if the board agrees on principle, it can happen,” a senior BCCI source told the Press Trust of India. 

Following a hastily arranged three-way bidding contest, online fantasy sports platform Dream11 stepped in and took over the rights from Vivo for the 2020 season, at a much-reduced rate, beating education technology platforms Byju’s and Unacademy. 

The package was sold for Rs222 crore ($30.47m), a near 50-per-cent discount on the Rs440 crore ($60m) Vivo was paying for the same rights. 

Dream11, which also owns growing sports media platform FanCode, and the education technology platforms are being tipped as early contenders for the 2021 IPL title rights.   

John Stephenson 


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