Search for sponsors continues, casting a cloud over BCCI earnings

NEW DELHI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is currently facing challenges in finding a new jersey sponsor and title partner following the departure of Byju’s and Mastercard Inc. This, coupled with expensive advertising, new regulations, and a funding downturn, is dampening sentiment within the cricketing body. In addition, BCCI has yet to initiate the auction process for media rights for upcoming bilateral series and domestic matches, as its contract with Disney Star ended in March. Experts suggest that these developments may lead to a decrease in BCCI’s earnings and necessitate strategizing and adaptation to the evolving landscape.

One of the leading sports consulting firm’s head stated, “This year will be a period of correction for BCCI. Advertising in cricket has become costlier, and this is a topic of discussion for everyone. Furthermore, startups are facing a funding downturn, and funds have dried up. Additionally, the government has imposed regulations on the real-money gaming sector. While this may dampen sentiment, it’s essential to remember that it is a cyclical business.”

On June 15, BCCI invited applications for the Indian team’s jersey rights, setting the base price at a 40% discount from the previous winning bid. The base price stands at ₹3 crore for bilateral matches featuring India and ₹1 crore for matches under the International Cricket Council (ICC) or Asian Cricket Council (ACC) tournaments, such as the ICC World Cup and Asia Cup. However, certain brand categories, including athleisure and sportswear manufacturers, are prohibited from bidding as BCCI has already signed a deal with Adidas as its kit sponsor, granting exclusivity in this category. Bidding is also not open to alcoholic products, betting companies, cryptocurrency entities, real-money gaming platforms (excluding fantasy sports gaming), tobacco brands, and those associated with offensive content.

A sports talent management executive commented on BCCI’s decision to lower the base price, stating, “The 40% lower reserve price reflects BCCI’s smart move after the previous Oppo deal. However, securing funding for startups is challenging, so BCCI has reduced the base price to be more competitive. Traditional brands with a commitment to the sport, such as BFSI companies, could make a comeback.”

The economic climate in the country and the availability of cricket throughout the year, including BCCI’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and other T20 tournaments, should also be considered as BCCI searches for a new jersey sponsor. BCCI faced the need for a new sponsor after Byju’s terminated its $35 million deal as part of cost-cutting measures. Byju’s was paying ₹5.07 crore per match for domestic matches featuring the Indian team and ₹1.56 crore per match for ICC and ACC tournaments. Previously, Oppo paid ₹4.61 crore per match. Over the past decade, the value of jersey sponsorships has declined. Nike paid BCCI around ₹88 lakh per match until 2020, amounting to a total of approximately ₹370 crore over a 14-year deal. Additionally, Nike paid an annual fee of ₹6 crore and 15% royalties on sales, totaling ₹10 crore per year.

In February, it was reported that BCCI was close to signing a ₹350 crore deal with German sporting goods company Adidas as the Indian cricket team’s kit sponsor. Adidas replaced Kewal Kiran Clothing Ltd as the interim sponsor after Mobile Premier League Sports (MPL Sports) exited its deal. Adidas’s five-year term was set to begin in June and run until March 2028. The company is expected to pay ₹65 lakh per match. Including merchandise royalties, the annual expenditure amounts to around ₹70 crore.

Regarding the title sponsor, Mastercard took over from Paytm in September. Paytm had signed a deal worth ₹326.80 crore in 2019. Initially, Paytm paid ₹2.4 crore per match, but in July 2022, it requested BCCI to assign the rights to Mastercard until March 2023. However, Mastercard has not yet renewed the deal with BCCI. The board is currently waiting for the merger of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd and Sony Pictures Networks India before launching the tender for media rights auction.

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