Cricket has been the way of life for Indians for decades. Sometimes we revere them as gods, and some cricketers cash on the public sentiments to become full-time politicians. The huge fan base of cricket in India has attracted Indian business houses to stay associated with it for years.
Indian cricket thrived with the association of large corporates like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, ITC, Sahara India, and DLF for decades. But with the turn of 2010, it saw a new generation of backers move in to sponsor the game, be attached to it in their journey to becoming household brands.
Indian startups have forwarded the legacy of corporate romance with cricket. It is almost a given that if a startup crosses the billion-dollar threshold and becomes a unicorn, it will be endorsing Indian cricket if it hasn’t already. From the title sponsors to IPL, Test Matches and ODI series, much of BCCI’s engine is run by such heavily-funded unicorns that boast dynamic stories of rapid growth.
The emergence of unicorns backing the sport India is most passionate about exemplifies the prominence these successful startups have in the economy and life of the Indian consumer. Just like IPL, startup ecosystem is a platform where we groom India’s brooding young talent to take the centre-stage.Gurinderpal Singh, Founder, Talent21
Here is how Indian Unicorns are romancing with the Indian cricket, backing it and leverage it be visible and well-received across all age groups.
How Indian Unicorn Startups Fund IPL And Keep BCCI’s Engine Running
Fantasy Sports – Dream11: Title Sponsor of IPL 2020
Cricket fans could identify Dream11 easily. Not because the fans participate in the leading fantasy sports game, but because of their television ads having the Indian cricket heart-throb Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The anti-Chinese sentiments in Indian forced BCCI to cancel the IPL sponsorship with Vivo, and newly former unicorn Dream11 became the new title sponsor of IPL 2020 at the cost of ₹222 Crores.
Earlier in the 2019 version of IPL, Dream11 was team sponsor of Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. In March last year, the BCCI had declared Dream11 as the official partner for the Indian Premier League for four years from 2019 season. It also grabbed the title sponsorship of the Super Smash domestic Twenty20 competition by the New Zealand Cricket Association (NZC).
Payment Apps – Paytm and PhonePe
Indian payment apps are also not behind in romanticizing with cricket. In 2015, Paytm acquired the title sponsorship rights for all Indian domestic and international matches at home for four years. Paytm also retained the sponsorship till 2023 at ₹326 Crores. The sponsorship includes branding of series with the title sponsor logo, designation as the title sponsor of the series, visibility at the stadium, and broadcast sponsorship rights. Earlier in the 2018 season of IPL, the unicorn got sponsorship rights and was the IPL team Mumbai Indians’ official partner. In 2018, it became the Umpire Partner of the IPL for the next five years.
Watch: Paytm Cricket Ad
The Flipkart-owned payment app, PhonePe, also received official co-presenting sponsor rights of IPL 2019.
Bringing Ed-tech to India – Byju’s and Unacademy
Byju’s has become a household name over the last few years in the ed-tech sector. Whether its aggressive marketing campaigns or its innovations in rendering educational services, there is no direct competitor of Byju’s at the current situation. The unicorn went public with its cricket infatuation when it entered the fray to grab the title sponsor tag of IPL 2020. Though it didn’t work out as Byju’s must have expected, its Indian team’s official sponsorship continues till 2022. It should be noted that the $8.2 billion valued Indian Unicorn Byju’s purchased Indian Team sponsorship from Oppo at ₹1079 Crores.
Fast-growing ed-tech startup Unacademy also recently joined the list of unicorns backing IPL 2020.
Cricket is more that a sport in India. It is a big part of our lives right from childhood. IPL is the perfect place to reach out to the young generation of viewers and make them aware of new innovations in education. Ed-tech is a huge part of our approach at Muni International Schools. It makes me proud that Ed-tech startups Byju’s and Unacademy will be able to spread awareness at the biggest stage.Ashok Thakur, Founder, Muni International Schools
Perfect Deliveries by Zomato and Swiggy
Food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy have never been short of efforts to connect with the millennials. Swiggy, in 2018 said that it witnessed a 25% increase in orders during the IPL season of 2018. It also added that it received the highest number of orders on the IPL 2018 finale. Swiggy became one of the 11 co-presenting sponsors of IPL 2019. Similarly, Zomato was an official partner of Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, and Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2019.
Watch: Swiggy Match Day Mania Ad
Flipkart and OYO are also in the Game
The biggest name of the Indian e-commerce field, Flipkart, also enjoyed a short association with cricket. India’s first unicorn was one of the four sponsors of IPL 2016 on Hotstar – a leading OTT platform owned by Star India. It shared the dais with AXE (Hindustan Unilever), Volini (Sun Pharma), and Raymond. OYO – India’s largest hospitality startup, acquired team sponsorship of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2018. Throughout the year, OYO boasted the RCB partnership with banners and signages across the nation.
Here’s a list of Unicorns having backed Indian cricket at different points in time
- Dream11: Title Sponsor of IPL 2020, Team Sponsor of Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, and Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2019. Title Sponsor of Super Smash domestic Twenty20 competition by the New Zealand Cricket (NZC).
- Byju’s: Official sponsor of Team India till 2022. It was in the list of companies eyeing for IPL 2020 title Sponsorship.
- Paytm: Acquired title sponsor rights from BCCI on all Domestic and International matches at home from 2015-19 and 2019-23. It was the official Team partner of Mumbai Indians in IPL 2018.
- Flipkart: Sponsored IPL-2016 on Hotstar.
- Zomato: Official Team partner of Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, and Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2019.
- Swiggy: One of the 11 co-presenting sponsors of IPL 2019.
- Oyo Rooms: Official team sponsor of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
- PhonePe: Held official co-presenting sponsor rights of IPL 2019.