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Indian Premier League. (Twitter/@IPL via IANS)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s cricket board has suspended its Indian Premier League title sponsorship deal with Chinese mobile phone company Vivo for the 2020 tournament.

The decision comes as Indian troops are in a tense standoff with Chinese soldiers in eastern Ladakh in the Himalayas. In June, India banned 59 apps with Chinese links, saying their activities endanger the country’s sovereignty, defense and security.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India and Vivo Mobile India Pvt Ltd have decided to suspend their partnership for Indian Premier League in 2020,” the Press Trust of India quoted a BCCI statement as saying.

Vivo had the title sponsorship rights for five years from 2018 to 2022 for India’s lucrative Twenty20 league. The BCCI is now likely to float a tender for new IPL title sponsors, PTI reported.

The 2020 IPL season has been rescheduled and relocated to the United Arab Emirates because of the coronavirus pandemic in India. The league, which attracts star players from all over the world, is set to start Sept. 19.

IANS adds: But market experts believe it will be a case of one from either e-commerce or e-learning companies coming in with the telecom sector playing the role of the dark horse.

Speaking to IANS, a market analyst said that it is just the push a brand like Amazon could need going into the Diwali weekend. Also, the deal would cost them much less than what a Vivo had to shell out Rs 440 cr. In fact, it is likely to be a win-win situation whoever jumps in and grabs the opportunity.

"See, at present after whatever has happened with the lockdown and economic impact, two of the biggest players would be from the e-learning and e-commerce sector. You don't expect a new player, like some start-up, to walk in. But, maybe someone like a Byju's, which is already a part of the BCCI family, can step up and do the big ticket event. Not to forget Unacademy who have been looking to associate itself with the cricket fraternity.

"When you come to the e-commerce side of things, while Diwali is four days after the final, you don't shop two days before the occasion. You actually do it a month leading into the festival. What better than for Amazon or Flipkart to use that space and get ultimate mileage? Also, you have to realize that nobody will be paying 440 cr. So, in short, you get the best advertising seat for say half or 1/3rd the value. It cannot get better than this actually," the analyst said.

Ad film maker Prahlad Kakkar believes that one cannot rule out the pharma sector because some of the pharmaceutical companies have done really well during the coronavirus pandemic. But he also feels that if ready, Amazon could be the frontrunner.

"I don't know if Amazon will look to come in as they are pretty cautious in their approach. But if they do, they could take it away. E-learning brands yes. But also, you have to keep in mind the pharma companies because they have done really well in this market. So, why not? What you must remember is that the IPL will take the cake this season because people will be glued to the television. I think it could be a win-win situation whoever decides to take up the offer," Kakkar told IANS.

Another market expert said that it would be very surprising if Jio does come in and that could be more to do with the good terms the owners share with the BCCI.

"See, Jio is already a brand that is individually associated with the eight teams. Why would it further want to get into the title sponsorship game? If they do, that would be more to do with the relationship they share with the BCCI. Also, as per statistics, they have been one of the most prominent brands in the IPL window ever since they associated themselves with the eight teams.

"But then, you can never rule Jio out as the telecom industry has the capability if it wishes to. I would term them as the dark horse. For me, the favorites would be between an e-learning brand or an e-commerce one," the expert said.


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