VIVO to exit IPL as title sponsor; Dream11 or Unacademy may take its place

VIVO is reportedly eyeing an exit from the Indian Premier League (IPL) by transferring its title sponsorship rights to potential bidders such as fantasy gaming platform Dream11 and Edu-tech start-up Unacademy. The Chinese mobile manufacturing company previously suspended the partnership with IPL in 2020 due to tensions between India and China.

BCCI and VIVO had signed a 5-year-deal worth Rs 2199 crores, which saw the Chinese brand paying Rs 363 crores in 2018 and Rs 400 crores in 2019, respectively as the title sponsor. With Rs 1436 crores remaining in the current deal (divided in instalments of Rs 440, 484, and 512 crores across three years), VIVO wants to transfer its contract to another brand.

A senior BCCI source told PTI, “It’s almost final that Vivo will exit the IPL title sponsorship deal by mutual consent with the board. It was suspended for the 2020 edition. However, there is a clause which allows them to transfer their pending liabilities as one-time title sponsors on the new winner. If the board agrees on principle, it can happen.”

This development is caused by the sensitive state of Sino-India geo-political relations at this moment. Since IPL is set for 9 or 10-team expansion in 2022, the new bidder is expected to get at least a three-year title sponsorship rights deal. Dream11 has already been the IPL title sponsors when it won the rights for the 2020 edition by paying Rs 222 crore. However, that was almost half of what VIVO was paying annually for a five-year deal. The other potential bidder Unacademy is an associate sponsor and might offer a higher amount to acquire the rights from VIVO.

The anonymous source at BCCI also added, “Vivo paid approximately Rs 440 crores (Rs 2190 crores for 5 years). Now if BCCI invites bids, just like last year when Dream11 paid Rs 222 crore, it might increase but can’t be doubled. But if there is a transfer of rights, the old amount could be matched or even bettered.”

BCCI is expected to make the final announcements once VIVO gets a concrete final offer. Since the title rights transfer will take some time, the VIVO logo is expected to be used during the mini-auction in Chennai on February 18.

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