Kolkata Knight Riders make a huddle before the start of the match 5 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians held at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on the 23rd September 2020. Photo by: Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI
The Dream 11 Indian Premier League is approaching it's halfway mark in the UAE. Image Credit: Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI

Dubai: The Indian Premier League 2020 witnessed a new trend in sponsorships with four of the six major sponsors of the cash-rich league being start-ups and from the digital world.

Gaming unicorn Dream11 zeroed in on the title sponsorship at a reported Rs 222 crore — half of what Chinese mobile manufacturers Vivo paid in 2019 — after the latter withdraw from its five-year deal which was to end in 2022 due to the border tensions between India and China in August. Edtech unicorn Unacademy and credit card payments company Cred signed up as ‘official partners’, shelling out Rs 130 crore each for a three-year association.

Paytm is the fourth major sponsor from the digital world while the other two in the central sponsorship pool include Tata Motors Altroz and Ceat Tyres.

Aside from these six companies, more than 120 others are sponsoring the various franchise teams this year.with 65 percent of them are from the start-up world, according to Forbes India. The balance are traditional companies spanning the FMCG, auto, cola, finance and electronics space.

The amount Dream XI is paying may be less than Vivo’s amount and may appear to be a case of distress sale, but it is more than the Rs 40 crore per year paid by DLF for the first five seasons or the Rs 79.2 crore per year paid by Pepsi from 2013 to 2015.

The digital start-ups have shown interest as most people are busy working from home and are spending plenty of time online.

Meanwhile, IMG-Reliance - the sports arm of Reliance Industries Ltd - confirmed to have ‘closed’ 36 deals across multiple brands and franchises for the ongoing IPL season, including the Indian cricketing board BCCI.

‘‘The marquee deal for IMG-Reliance’s growth trajectory for this year has been Dream 11’s title sponsorship of Rs 222 crore with IPL. The Mumbai-based firm has exclusively represented Dream 11 on its BCCI & IPL related partnerships and also assisted them in securing cricketers as part of their activation plans. This is in addition to facilitating six team deals with Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals & Sunrisers Hyderabad,’’ a IMG-Reliance statement said.

Nikhil Bardia, Head of Sponsorship Sales and Talents, IMG-Reliance, said: “This season, Dream11’s IPL title sponsorship was a very big win for us, along with BKT who joined the IPL wave with 6 IPL team partnerships. The brand partners have consistently appreciated our strategic insights, our knowledge around the assets and most importantly, our ability to find a fine balance between rights holders & brands, to make the partnerships impactful for all parties. It is this experience, which has helped us to grow in the sponsorship landscape with a large number of deals to become a dominant player in the region for cricket.”