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IPL 2023: Monetising alternatives and challenges faced by franchises

Multiple teams haven't finalised their key shirt sponsorship slots for the upcoming season yet.

After the historic IPL Media Rights Auction and 2023 Player Auction, the countdown for yet another enthralling season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has already begun. After getting past the headache of securing some talented cricketers in their squad, the franchises have moved on to their next daunting task of acquiring some fruitful sponsorship deals.

Multiple teams haven’t finalised their key shirt sponsorship slots for the upcoming season yet. In the past couple of seasons, digital startups had been prominent in sponsoring IPL teams but their demeaning interest is going to hurt franchises. Traditional advertisers are already on the back foot due to the exuberant increase in the media rights value and aren’t in favour of spending more on sponsorships than in past seasons.

  • Digital Startups grabbed top slots in team sponsorships in IPL 2022
Mumbai Indians Slice (Front of shirt)
Lucknow Super GiantsMy11Circle (Front of shirt)
Kolkata Knight Riders Winzo (Front of shirt)

With the front-of-shirt sponsorship category contributing highly to the sponsorship revenue, the aforementioned teams had their majority of revenue coming through digital startups.

Dream11 had the highest number of sponsorship deals with seven teams – Mumbai Indians (MI), Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Gujarat Titans (GT), Rajasthan Royals (RR), Delhi Capitals (DC) and Punjab Kings (PBKS). Other digital startups like ACKO, boAt, Open, and Meesho, also bagged sponsorship deals with multiple teams in IPL 2022.

The previous edition of IPL had a total of 30 startups as sponsors with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and MI having the most with seven each.

  • Brands likely to choose a partnership with teams over broadcasters

The rights holders of the elite Indian cricket competition will charge a significantly higher price for advertising than previous editions to compensate for such an expensive acquisition of media rights. Due to this, the costs of TV and OTT advertising will be soaring high and it will become unaffordable to the advertisers that operate in regional markets only.

Amidst this chaos, the humongous price of the new media rights cycle has also emerged as a silver lining. Brands who couldn’t afford TV and OTT advertising will move on to partnering with IPL teams and aim for exposure during live fixtures on both broadcasting mediums. Brands, that have a firm grip in the southern part of India will look forward to partnering with CSK, RCB and SRH. The makers of TVS Eurogrip (the principal sponsor of CSK), TVS Srichakra Limited, are headquartered in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. RCB’s title sponsor, Muthoot Fincorp, is also based in Kerala. Brands will look to follow the footsteps of the aforementioned two brands as a viable option for exposure amidst the high prices by the broadcasters.

A sponsorship pact with a team provides the brand with the privilege of carrying out initiatives like hospitality programs, live sessions, player interviews, content creation featuring the team players for digital mediums and many more. For the 2021 season, the digital payment app, Phonepe partnered with MI, RCB, DC and CSK. Through this partnership, Phonepe being a national brand has covered the entire country with two of the four teams being from the south, one is the financial capital of India and one is the national capital. Ahead of Phase 2 of the IPL 2021, Phonepe did a live stream, #MeetThePaltan ft. MI, which was hosted by Vikram Sathaye.

Such initiatives also attract eyeballs as the majority of the fanbase pays attention to such opportunities to get in touch with their favourite teams.

  • A pact with cricket news platforms

Brands that have a superior spending capacity beyond team partnership could also move their attention towards partnering with digital cricket news platforms, execute their campaigns and reach out to the masses regionally. Entities like Cricbuzz and ESPN Cricinfo are a few of the most popular digital cricket news platforms that have a massive audience. Cricbuzz has 100 million+ downloads. Moj also partnered with Cricbuzz last year to enhance its sports content offering.

  • Content-based partnership

Since the pandemic, a few amendments have been made by the teams on and off the field. IPL giants like RR, MI, and RCB have cashed on their massive social media audience in the past two-three editions, especially after cricket resumed following the COVID-19 pandemic. In these collaborations, the two parties involved focus thoroughly on the content and such initiatives have seen a mammoth response. Considering the current scenario and with IPL teams having some serious followers on social media, the majority of franchises may take this route in the coming season. Below are two interesting instances of this initiative, where Centre Fruit teamed up with RCB Insiders Show and Acko joined forces with MI for giving centre stage for the team’s fans to display their fandom.

  • Revenues for IPL teams
  1. Gate Revenue

Gate revenue has always been a great source of income for teams. Thousands of cricket fans gather in the stands, which becomes quite beneficial for the teams in terms of support and revenue. For the upcoming edition, the IPL team will count on revenue generated through tickets because the 2023 season will be played throughout the country without any limitations for the first time since 2019. IPL enthusiasts from places like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, who didn’t get a chance to enjoy the live in-stadium IPL action for the past few seasons will be looking forward to the upcoming edition to witness the exhilarating game from the stands itself.

2. Sponsors

The most important source of income for not just an IPL team but for any other sports team is sponsorship. Brands pay a hefty amount of money to teams to get associated with them and get featured on their marketing assets for exposure throughout the duration of the partnership. This practice enables brands to leverage the franchise’s fan following and also be visible to their target audience.

The recent sponsorship developments in IPL

3. Merchandise

Merchandising could be as effective as sponsorship for teams but teams are yet to reap the benefit from its utmost potential. There are merchandise stalls inside the stadiums during match days which has the potential to attract spectators in large numbers. One of the main reasons, the in-stadia merchandise stalls aren’t earning to their fullest is that the same jerseys are also sold outside of the stadium at a much cheaper price. There must be a massive difference in authenticity and quality but cricket enthusiasts majority of the time opt to buy jerseys from a gradually cheaper place.

  • Media Rights

IPL teams receive a significant share from the sale of media rights and revenue from central sponsorships which is termed the central revenue pool. Viacom18 and Disney Star broke their banks for acquiring media rights to IPL and due to this franchises will receive a massive amount of revenue. There might be uncertainty over receiving some lucrative sponsorship deals for the key positions but IPL teams are set to garner a fortune through the central revenue pool.

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