STAR Sports has sealed seven sponsors to air the fifth season of the cricket tournament, Champions League T20. Starting September 21, the tourney will end on October, 6. The qualifier matches began on September, 17.
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 TVRs. The ratings, however, improved in 2010, when it averaged at 1.45 TVRs. In comparison, IPL garnered an average TVR of 4.1 in 2009. In 2010, IPL averaged at 5.51 TVRs.
Later, Nokia was taken on-board as the title sponsor for Champions League T20 Season 3 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 TVRs on an average, compared to IPL 2011, which clocked average 3.91 TVRs.
Apart from Karbonn Smart, Tata Docomo is the other co-presenting sponsor for the league this year, along with Pernod Ricard, Bharat Business Channel (Videocon D2H), Panasonic, Toshiba India and Airtel Broadband, which are associate sponsors. As for the on-ground sponsors, Karbonn is accompanied by Panasonic, Britannia, Panasonic TV and Jaypee Cements.
CLT20 will be broadcast on STAR Cricket, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket HD. Interestingly, the network is going the SET Max way, it seems. The first and last matches of the tourney will be simulcast on STAR Gold, the Hindi movie channel of the STAR India network. This is the first time that STAR Gold will have non-movie content.
As a part of its multi-lingual content, there will be a special Hindi presentation for the tourney on STAR Cricket, in addition to the English commentary on STAR Sports and STAR Cricket HD. The presentation on STAR Gold will also be in Hindi to generate interest among the Hindi speaking male audiences.
As for the build-up programming, STAR Sports' flagship cricket show, Champions Ka Champion, is acting as the vehicle to build up and educate people about all the teams participating in the league. The opening ceremony of the tournament will have a performance by singer Mika in Jaipur. Apart from this, the main attraction of the tournament is that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and M S Dhoni will be playing together in a T20 tourney for the last time.
In an official communiqué, Vijay Rajput, chief operating officer, ESPN Software India, says, "We are very confident about the success of the tournament as we have representation from top four IPL teams and the champion teams from leading cricket playing nations across the world. The Indian cricket team has not been in action for almost two months now. This gap of cricket, we believe, will also attract more viewers to the CLT20 fold."
IPL champions Mumbai Indians will face Rajasthan Royals in the opening match of the season. In all, 10 teams will compete for the trophy.