Dream11 Replaces Vivo As IPL Title Sponsor For 2020 Season
Cricket bats sit on display next to a poster for the Mumbai Indians Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team,. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Dream11 Replaces Vivo As IPL Title Sponsor For 2020 Season

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Dream11 has won the IPL title sponsorship rights with a bid of Rs 222 crore, replacing Vivo for a 4.5-month deal.

The fantasy gaming platform has been one of the sponsors of Indian Premier League for a couple of years now. "Dream11 has won the rights with a bid of Rs 222 crore," IPL chairman Brijesh Patel told Press Trust of India.

It is learnt that the Tata Group didn't place a final bid while two edtech startups—Byju’s (Rs 201 crore) and Unacademy (Rs 170 crore)—came second and third, respectively.

Vivo and the Board of Control for Cricket in India have suspended a Rs 440 crore-per-year deal for IPL 2020 due to the India-China border standoff. The T20 cricket league starts on Sept. 19 in the United Arab Emirates, moving out of India for the second time in history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To be sure, question were raised on Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s investment in Dream11, but a BCCI source said that the Chinese firm holds less than 10% stake in the gaming startup. Dream11 is an Indian company founded by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth.

"Dream11 stakeholders, including its founders plus all 400-plus employees, are Indian," a BCCI source said. "Their Indian investors are Kalaari Capital and Multiples Equity. Even Dream11's product is available exclusively for use only by Indians. Only a single-digit percentage minority stake is held by Tencent.”

However, as recently as last month, the BCCI's Anti Corruption Unit had sought enquiry against Dream11 after it was reported that the platform had links to a fake T20 league which was held in a Punjab town but was livestreamed as a game in Sri Lanka.

The ACU investigations showed that kits used by players in the tournament had the Dream11 logo and the event was livestreamed on FanCode. Both Dream11 and FanCode are part of Dream Sports group.

Again, Dream11’s bid is nearly half the amount that Vivo was paying BCCI as IPL’s title sponsor for a year. "...that was always going to be the case,” an industry insider told PTI. “Those who were expecting that Vivo's bid will be matched were unaware of current economic climate. The Tatas may have had filed expression of interest but they were never interested in bidding.”

"BCCI wanted Tata as their presence adds a lot of credibility," the source said.

BCCI insiders feel that the Dream11 deal, along with the official sponsorship amount coming from Unacademy and payment app Cred—the two firms that have come on board in the central sponsorship pool—will cover losses to a considerable degree.

"Think for four months and you will see that it's not at all a bad deal for such a short span of time," another BCCI veteran said.

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