Vivo goes big to remain IPL title sponsor
By Simon Ward
Vivo, the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer, has today extended its title sponsorship of cricket’s Indian Premier League by five years, in the process increasing its annual payment more than fourfold.
The rights cover each edition of the tournament from 2018 to 2022.
The IPL announced on Tuesday, the deadline for bids to be submitted, that Vivo had offered Rs21.99 billion ($341 million), or Rs4.4 billion per season, meaning that it is the biggest sponsorship deal ever in Indian sport.
The second-highest bid, of Rs14.3 billion, was submitted by rival Chinese handset maker Oppo, which earlier this year beat Vivo to the main sponsorship rights to India’s national teams.
As reported by Sportcal this month, Vivo was keen to retain top billing in the world’s leading Twenty20 competition despite recently signing up as a new sponsor of soccer’s World Cup for the 2018 and 2022 events.
In 2016, Vivo replaced Pepsi as the title sponsor of the IPL in a two-year deal reported to be worth Rs2 billion. The soft drinks giant had pulled out three years into a five-year contract worth Rs4 billion.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India launched the tender for the IPL title sponsorship rights on 31 May, setting a base price of Rs1.2 billion per year.
It was reported that at least four phone manufacturers – Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Intex – acquired the tender documents, which were available until 21 June for a non-refundable payment of Rs300,000.
Vivo’s bid reflects the huge popularity of the IPL, which enjoyed record viewership for its 10th edition this year, and the company’s desire to consolidate its growth in the Indian market, where it is already one of the leading players.
In March, Oppo, which is also a global sponsor of the International Cricket Council, became the main sponsor of India’s cricket teams, with branding on the shirts, for a five-year period, having bid Rs10.8 billion compared to Vivo’s offer of Rs7.7 billion.
However, the latter has since shown its continuing enthusiasm for sport in the country by becoming the title sponsor of the Pro Kabaddi League in a five-year deal worth Rs3 billion.
The BCCI’s focus will now switch to the broadcasting rights for the IPL in 2018 onwards, with a tender due to be launched on 17 July and Sony Pictures Networks, the incumbent rights-holder in India, expected to face intense competition from Star India for the next five-year contract.
Sony has been showing the IPL in India in a nine-year deal worth Rs82 billion that expired after the 2017 tournament.
The broadcaster achieved 1.24 billion impressions for the 59 matches in this year’s competition held in April and May, up from the 1.02 billion impressions for the 60 matches in 2016 (one match was rained off in 2017).
Impressions represent the number of individuals in thousands of a target audience who watch an event averaged across minutes.
There has also been significant growth in digital viewership in India as access to the internet and smartphone ownership has escalated.
Meanwhile, the BCCI has appointed a seven-member committee to analyse the stumbling blocks to introducing reforms proposed by the Lodha panel.
The committee is headed up by senior official Rajeev Shukla and includes former India captain Sourav Ganguly.
India's Supreme Court has directed the BCCI to adopt most of the recommendations of the panel, but there is opposition from state bodies.
In a statement yesterday, the governing body said the committee would identify "exceptional and extremely limited areas of difficulty" in the implementation of the reforms.
It is to draw up conclusions before July 14 when the Supreme Court is due to address the issue again.
The Lodha panel was appointed by the court to address perceived shortcomings in governance at the BCCI, but there is resistance to proposals including: one-state, one vote; an age cap of 70 for office-bearers; a cooling-off period for office-bearers; and the size of the national selection panel.
The original IPL broadcasting rights tender was postponed after the Supreme Court made the Lodha panel a "custodian" of the process, and insisted the BCCI adopt its recommendations.
In January, the court ousted Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president, and Ajay Shirke, the organisation's secretary, for failing to implement the proposals, and replaced them with a 'committee of administrators' to oversee the running of the governing body.