Dream11 is Official Partner in IPL 2021: What can Start-ups Learn?

Start-ups are lining up for sponsorship opportunities in the world's richest cricket league that is IPL.


After almost two decades of prominent sponsorships for cricket, the big companies have moved aside to allow Indian start-ups to take over the sponsorship labels. Indian start-ups are offering to be an IPL sponsor to increase their brand’s acclaim and market share in the country. IPL Title Sponsorship is the ideal opportunity to expand a brand’s global presence.

Dream11 opened great doors in the title IPL Sponsor race for start-ups

For IPL 2021, Dream11 has reappeared as the official tournament partner. Although Dream11’s attempt to retain the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League failed when Vivo returned to the league, it still has given a way to other newly formed Indian companies and start-ups to enter the major leagues. The primary fantasy company will continue to register as the Official Fantasy Partner at IPL 2021.

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Start-ups investing in India's unifying religion that is cricket have shown that marketing is not just about making money. It's also about making your presence felt in the market.

Vivo’s stumble as IPL sponsor

In 2020, when anti-Chinese rhetoric rocked India, Chinese smartphone brand Vivo pulled out of the IPL. When Vivo pulled out of IPL 2020, it transferred the IPL sponsorship rights to interested parties. The fantasy sports platform Dream11 and EdTech giant Unacademy were the first Indian start-ups to obtain rights for the first time in the more than ten-year history of the IPL tournament.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had to terminate the Rs 440 crore per year contract with the Chinese smartphone giant. The outcome of the Vivo-IPL deal was sparked by anti-Chinese sentiment across the country following the China-India conflict in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, when Chinese troops killed 20 Indian soldiers.

Vivo has yet again captured the Title IPL Sponsor

In 2020, Dream11 and Unacademy presented their sponsorship bids to Vivo. Dream11 became the title sponsor of IPL 2020 and reserved a place for itself in the “Outstanding Sponsor Category”. In 2021, however, Dream11 will not be the title sponsor, but the official fantasy partner for IPL 2021.

Dream11 tried to retain the title sponsorship of IPL 2021 and even made an offer to Vivo. But Vivo did not implement the agreement because the annual price of Rs 250 crore for sponsorships rights was far below its expectations.

Start-ups are investing heavily in IPL Sponsor race

In addition to Dream11, BCCI has also tied up with Unacademy and CRED as official partners. Tata Motors has completed its three-year relationship with IPL and is expected to renew its contract. Upstox, the digital stockbroker start-up, and online investment platform Groww, also became official partners of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. It is clear that cricket remains the best choice for the marketing strategies of start-ups.

According to the Pitch Madison advertising report released in February 2021, educational technology company Byju’s advertisement budget was between Rs 400-500 crore last year, while Dream11’s was between Rs 350-400 crore.

What avenues have start-ups opened for others to follow?

Start-ups investing in India’s unifying religion that is cricket have shown that marketing is not just about making money. It’s also about making your presence felt in the market. IPL sponsorship is an excellent opportunity for businesses, either new or established, to expand their global reach. 

The Indian Premier League is the most successful cricket league in the world. More than 70 games are played in 50 days, and international and Indian cricketers compete against each other every day wearing jerseys with business’s labels on them. 

With the eyeballs of hundreds of millions of people fixated on the TV and OTT platforms that stream live matches, sponsor businesses get exactly what their brand needs to produce an image that viewers can relate to and feel connected with. In essence, IPL offers a variety of investment opportunities to make it relevant to brands of different categories, and that is why start-ups are roping in on the opportunity. 

Aakash Sharma
Aakash Sharma
Aakash writes on Startup Ecosystem, Policies, Legal and Regulatory aspects of business planning. An alumnus of Delhi University, he is assistant editor at Dutch Uncles.

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