BCCI tests waters for IPL with fans’ return


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With fans returning to the stadium for the second Test in ongoing India vs England series, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to earn 15-20 crore from gate receipts and limited on-ground brand promotions through the series, according to media industry estimates.

BCCI is likely to share this money with state cricket associations as matches are being held in Pune, Ahmedabad and Chennai. The bilateral series, which started on 5 February, comprises three ODIs, five T20s, and four Tests.

On Saturday, India won the toss and chose to bat first at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, in Chennai where 50% in-stadia audience was allowed for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak.

The immediate monetary gain is limited, but sports marketing and industry experts believe that through this series BCCI seems to be testing waters by allowing fans to watch live matches as it gets ready to host events such as the Indian Premier League (IPL) in March-April and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in November. These high-stake events tend to draw huge crowds, which impact sponsorships and advertising investments.

“The opening up of stadiums also implies that the covid implication is less severe than before. However, BCCI has to ensure that the crowd follows social distancing norms so that no untoward event happens. There will be a certain degree of in-stadia and on-ground advertising though it will be a drop in the ocean,” said Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.

“The larger aspect of this decision is a pilot for IPL. If this series with an in-stadia audience goes off without any grave consequence then BCCI will be able to hold the IPL allowing fans in stadia, which involves serious money. The numbers are much higher and there are multiple locations where matches are played,” Goyal said.

Star India, which is expected to earn 500 crore through the India versus England series, did not comment on the return of in-stadia audience. However, the network did bring multiple sponsors for both television and its over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platform Disney + Hotstar, including Dream11, ICICI Bank, Tata Cliq, Amazon, Mondelez, Pepsi, Maruti Suzuki, and Zomato.

High octane tournaments such as ICC T20 Men’s World Cup and IPL also attract massive sponsorship interest that translates into active on-ground promotions and in-stadia advertising where brands across categories such as food and beverage, technology, telecom, and smartphones tend to set up kiosks and take up digital hoardings to grab eyeballs.

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