ESPN-STAR Sports (ESS), the official broadcast partner of cricket tourney Champions League T20, has inked a year-long deal with Karbonn Mobiles to be the on-ground title sponsor for the league, which will be called Karbonn Champions League Twenty20.
It may be recalled that the league has been on a rough patch since it started in October, 2009. Though Airtel was signed on as the title sponsor of the tournament for five years for Rs 170 crore, it backed out from the league in its third season using an exit clause in the agreement.
Airtel's exit was apparently prompted by the poor viewership numbers. In its first year, the league averaged at 1.06 TVR. The ratings, however, improved in 2010. It averaged at 1.45, with 77.7 million Indian viewers having watched the 16-day event. In comparison, IPL garnered an average TVR of 4.1 in 2009. In 2010, IPL averaged at 5.51 TVR.
Later, Nokia was taken on-board as the title sponsor for the third season on a negotiated price of Rs 8-9 crore for a single year, much lower than the earlier deal. Even in the third season, the tourney couldn't garner more than 2 TVR on an average.
According to the latest deal, Karbonn Mobiles will also be one of the co-presenting on-air sponsors for the league, along with two other brands. The advertisers together must have invested Rs 18-20 crore for the combined deal. In total, the broadcaster will have three on-air co-presenting sponsors, of which two are known to be telecom players, each business worth about Rs 6-7 crore, as per market sources.
Though the channel and the title sponsor refused to comment on the financial intricacies of the deal, it is learnt that the broadcaster looks forward to take on-board about six to seven associate sponsors, for about Rs 4-4.5 crore each.
Market sources reveal that Maruti, Toshiba, Hero, Tata Docomo and Sony are some of the major advertisers which are in the process of negotiation.
Pradeep Jain, managing director, Karbonn Mobiles, says, "We look forward to garner better results from this tourney. We have planned to spend about Rs 200 crore on marketing in the current financial year."
The fourth edition will feature a total of 14 teams and 29 matches. The group stage will be preceded by a qualifying stage during October 9-11, while the group stage will start from October 13.
Interestingly, all the title sponsorship deals done by the tourney are with the telecom players. Also, the recent Asia Cup signed a deal with Micromax. Aloke Malik, managing director, ESPN Software India, says, "The telecom industry is expanding rapidly. There were two stages to this expansion. Firstly, the penetration of mobile phones was made, while in the second phase, which is now, the shift from the normal feature phones to the smartphones is visible. This mode of expansion has also made the telecom industry aggressive in promotions."
The league will have a representation from Pakistan as well. "Champions League Twenty20, in just three editions, has established itself as a marquee cricket property. This year, teams from as many as eight cricket playing countries will feature in the tournament. From the subcontinent alone, we will see six teams in action. Besides the four IPL teams, we are expecting that the participation from Pakistan will generate further interest in this blockbuster property," adds Malik.
For the record, Champions League T20 is an initiative of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa. The tournament is a platform where the world's best domestic T20 teams get the opportunity to pit their skills against each other. The tournament is broadcast around the world by ESPN-STAR Sports, which is also the commercial rights holder for the event.