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ICL on backfoot as ads dry up; sponsors back off

NEW DELHI: It’s not just cricketers that are having a rethink about teaming up with Subhash Chandra’s ambitious Indian Cricket League (ICL). Advertisers, too, seem to be having second thoughts about the league.

On-air spots on group channel Zee Sports, which is to broadcast the tournament, are learnt to be selling at 50-60% lower than the asking rates of Rs 30,000-40,000 for 10-second spots. Worse, one of the league’s high-profile partners, beer company SABMiller, has opted out on the eve of the event.

ICL, which is struggling to sign sponsorship deals, has only five-six days left to seal its ground and team sponsorships. While an announcement of the ground sponsors is expected on Monday (November 26), sources told ET that the sponsorships, too, have been struck at rates lesser than what Zee had originally planned—Rs 3-3.75 crore for ground sponsors and Rs 2-2.6 crore for team sponsors.

When contacted, Zee Sports president Satish Menon said, “There will be some ups and down and hitches. At times these things happen at the last minute but it’s ok. The ground and team sponsorship details are being worked out.”

He added that while four ground sponsors were likely to be announced on Monday, it wasn’t yet clear whether the team sponsors could also be announced the same day. “Team sponsorships are in the contract stage; we are also reworking deals with affiliate partners,” Mr Menon said.

The group had intended to raise 15 crore from four ground sponsors and Rs 15.6 crore from six team sponsors. “The deals vary from sponsor to sponsor. Merchandise partner Provogue, for example, has paid Rs 50-80 lakh, besides which a revenue sharing arrangement has been signed for the merchandise it will sell,” an ICL source told ET. LG Electronics, Airtel, Maruti and Bisleri were among the contenders for sponsorships.

SABMiller’s sudden exit adds to ICL’s problems. The beer company’s officials had earlier announced that their brand Fosters would be a partner for the league. Without getting into the reasons of the exit, a SABMiller spokesperson confirmed, “The deal has not materialised with the ICL.” However, the beer major will be visible on stadia through a restricted presence, while Coca-Cola will be serving its packaged drinking water brand Kinley.

ICL’s other two affiliates include Microsoft as online partner and Travel Corporation of India as travel partner.
Meanwhile, advertiser interest for buying spots on Zee Sports isn’t red hot either. Zee has floated an asking rate of Rs 30,000-40,000 for 10-second spots, but media buying sources told ET that spots are being negotiated for as less as Rs 10,000-15,000 per 10 seconds.

The tournament was to be telecast on Zee group’s Ten Sports, but the management has decided to show the tournament on Zee Sports instead, which isn’t too well distributed.

Commenting on the developments, Essel Group vice-president Ashish Kaul said, “It would take us three-five years to fully develop the ICL. Hence our focus is not just on sponsors but also to develop this property; we want the country to first experience it.” var RN = new String (Math.random()); var RNS = RN.substring (2,11); b2 = ‘ ‘; if (doweshowbellyad==1) bellyad.innerHTML = b2;

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