There is some good news for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The setback of losing Chinese mobile phone makers Vivo as the title sponsors of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has somewhat been counterbalanced by the addition of two official partners -- Unacademy and Cred. (More Cricket News)
According to well-placed sources, Unacademy, an education technology platform has been roped in for a four-year period (2020-2023). The exact valuation of the deal with Unacademy could not be ascertained but industry experts say it could be anything upwards 60 crores per season. Unacademy officials could not be contacted for confirmation.
Sources in the know of things also reveal that BCCI has signed up with another official partner for the IPL -- Cred. It is a members-only credit card bill payment platform. The period of the deal with IPL will be identical with Unacademy's and the valuation almost similar.
The BCCI is desperately seeking a title sponsor for IPL after Vivo quit in the wake of the anti-China wave after the Galwan standoff in Ladakh between Indian and Chinese armies.
Vivo, a wholly-owned Chinese company, paid a whopping 440 crore per season to BCCI. The IPL has floated a tender earlier this week asking companies with a minimum turnover of 300 crores to bid for the title sponsorship.
The short-period title sponsorship will be valid from August 18 to December 31, 2020. A decision will be made on August 18. The IPL will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10.
Sources say Unacademy is in pole position to win the title sponsorship as well.
The five-year-old company, backed by prominent investors such as Facebook, General Atlantic, Sequoia India, SAIF Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital, and Blume Ventures, is taking its first big stride in marketing and looks keen to grab maximum attention during the IPL this year, say insiders.
IPL has always been about big money, and that brings fun to fans too. Photo - BCCI
But Bangalore-based Unacademy is unlikely to have it easy. It could face a serious challenge from Jio, which has deep pockets but may run into a conflict of interest scenario since Reliance owns IPL's defending champions, Mumbai Indians.
Sources say Patanjali are unlikely to bid. They are just riding the wave and getting free publicity. Coke, industry experts believe, are a long shot and Amazon, that has already spent a lot on television slots, will not compete for the title sponsorship. The field will be known on August 14 evening once the deadline for submitting bids ends.
Being a wholly Indian company puts Unacademy in a good position. The valuation of the IPL title sponsorship will be anything between 150-200 crores and given the period and target audience the education platform serves, everything works out to Unacademy's advantage, said an industry watcher.
On Monday, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, whose tenure got over last month, said Vivo's exit was a "blip." It is learnt that Ganguly has been dealing with all the potential sponsors. Unacademy and Cred will have given BCCI some relief, for sure.
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