Dream11, the leading fantasy cricket platform, has scored a notable coup after winning the title sponsorship rights for the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) awarded the rights after bidding between various businesses. According to sources, Dream11 won with a bid of Rs. 220 Crores (approx. US$29.5 million), slightly less than predictions of Rs. 250 Crores that had been reported. It would appear the firm has got a bargain - VIVO were paying around double per year on their previous deal.
Tata Sons had been favourites to win the bidding war, but it appears they were eventually only third-best. The other top bids were Unacademy (Rs. 210 Crores), Tatas (Rs. 180 Crores) and Byju's (Rs. 125 Crores).
Last week the BCCI had suggested money would not be the only consideration for the winning bid saying: "For the avoidance of doubt, it is clarified that BCCI shall not be obliged to award the Rights to the third party which indicates willingness to pay the highest fees in the course of discussions/ negotiations with BCCI after submitting an EOI.
"BCCI’s decision in this regard will also depend on a number of other relevant factors, including but not limited to, the manner in which the third party intends to exploit the Rights and the potential impact of the same on brand IPL as also the fan/viewer experience, which will be examined/ evaluated by BCCI in the course of discussions/ negotiations with interested third parties who submit an EOI."
It does appear that, ultimately, money spoke. It's an arguably controversial decision, with fantasy cricket tied up with online gambling in many people's mind - something that of course remains illegal in India.
Dream11 has previously been associated with the IPL as one of seven partner TV sponsors for the tournament, back in 2018. Chennai Super Kings star MS Dhoni is a Dream 11 brand ambassador.
And just this week, Mobile Premier League (MPL), another well-known fantasy and gaming platform, became the principal sponsor for IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders.
The original IPL sponsor, VIVO, had signed a five-year Rs. 2,000+ Crores deal back in 2018 but withdrew after the Boycott China campaign gathered momentum, following the deaths of Indian soldiers on a disputed Himalayan border area with China in June.