Just like the nature of the tournament, Dream11 has sprung a surprise and bagged the title sponsorship rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 despite having Chinese internet giant Tencent as one of its investors.
It must be noted that the prevailing anti-China sentiment played a part in Vivo dropping out of this year's IPL sponsorship commitment.
Dream11 will pay Rs 222 crore for the rights, which are valid until December 31.
The other bidders were Byju's (Rs 201 crore) and Unacademy (Rs 170 crore).
According to a person who was closely involved in the discussions, Dream11 sensed that it was the right opportunity as it would help them in catering to a new set of fans.
"Dream11 is one of the official partners of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and this IPL title sponsorship deal further strengthens the brand’s relationship with the game. The association will also help Dream11 to boost fan engagement and was one of the main factors," a source told Moneycontrol.
He also brushed aside Tencent's association with Dream11, saying the Chinese internet giant is a minority shareholder and the management knew that this IPL association was too good an opportunity for them to pass up.
"Tencent is a minority (single-digit) stakeholder in Dream11. All employees, products and technology are Indian. There’s nothing foreign about Dream11," he added.
At the time of filing this article, BCCI was yet to make a formal announcement regarding the name of the title sponsor. A source told Moneycontrol that BCCI and Dream11 are currently working on the legal formalities and an announcement is expected later today (August 18).
Vivo's exit as title sponsor earlier this month meant that the BCCI had the unenviable task of finding a sponsor with less than 50 days to go for the tournament.
After Tata Sons confirmed its interest in acquiring the sponsorship rights for this year on August 14, it was widely expected that the salt-to-steel conglomerate would be the top contender. But they did not place a bid.
With COVID-19 affecting business sentiments and economic sluggishness set to stay for another few quarters, BCCI knew that it wasn't spoilt for choice and the fact that the none of the bidders were big corporate houses indicates that even the world's most popular cricket tournament has fallen prey to the destruction caused by the deadly virus.
Dream11 is also a commercial partner of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and has been associated with many international cricket tournaments like New Zealand Cricket’s Super Smash, and T10 Vincy Premier League.
Founded by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth in 2012, Dream11 achieved the status of a unicorn last year and has been on a steady growth path since its inception.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here