India news October 3, 2013

Star India gets series-title rights

The BCCI has awarded series-title sponsorship rights for home international matches and domestic fixtures in the 2013-14 season to Star India Pvt Ltd for a base price of Rs 2 crore (approx. $320,000) per international match. The deal, which is substantially lower than the previous contract with Bharti Airtel, which fetched the BCCI Rs 3.33 (approx. $700,000) crore per match, is the first major piece of business by the BCCI since the IPL corruption scandal broke in June.

The contract was officially won by Star India Pvt. Ltd and ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. ESPN Software is no longer an ESPN-owned company and is believed to be re-branding in the future following News Corporation's buyout of ESPN's 50 percent of the ESPN-Star Sports joint venture.

ESPNcricinfo understands that mobile-handset manufacturing firm Micromax backed out after buying the tender document. As a result, Star's bid ended up being lower than Bharti Airtel's.

However, BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel sought to play down the possibility of negative publicity for the board being the reason behind the lower revenue generation. "I don't think negative news has got anything to do with these kinds of things. Cricket is going on well. Our teams are doing well. The series are going on and a lot of international [teams], other Full Members of ICC are waiting for us to start the [series]," Patel said in Mumbai after the BCCI's marketing committee, headed by Amitabh Choudhary, awarded the rights to Star on Thursday.

"We are absolutely fine - the market situation is such that, at one point of time, we had thought it would be very difficult to get sponsorship. But we are very happy. It is not attributed to any image [of the board]. According to us there is no question of a bad image."

Star's sponsorship contract covers the period from October 2013 to March 2014, including the India-Australia series - one T20I and seven ODIs - and the home series against West Indies, which comprises two Tests and three ODIs, as well as domestic tournaments during this period. The companies will also be allowed branding and in-stadia advertising opportunities similar to those awarded to the last series-title sponsor, Bharti Airtel. The deal would result in an addition of Rs 26 crore to BCCI's income.

Besides the volatile financial market, one of the other factors behind most of the major companies opting against showing interest in the rights was the timing and duration of the deal. At the halfway mark in the financial year in India, not many would have been willing to invest a substantial sum for less than two months - even though the deal is for six months, as of now, India are not scheduled to play at home after November during the duration of the deal.

The board's marketing committee decided to float a new tender for a series-title sponsor after Bharti Airtel, the telecommunication company, decided not to extend its contract, which ran from 2010 to March 2013. Bharti Airtel was also allowed branding on stumps and fixed slots for in-stadium advertising as part of the deal. There was a three-month window for the company to negotiate an extension of the contract, but the BCCI's marketing committee decided to float a fresh tender after there was no discussion between the two sides.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo