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SBU Ep7: featuring Indian Premier League in London and other sports business news

The nexus between Sports and Business.

Thank you for joining me on the seventh episode of Sports Business Updates – my weekly podcast featuring the biggest sports business news from India.

In this week’s episode, I will talk about the possibilities of IPL being played in London, JSW Sports partner with India Accelerator to support sports-related tech start-ups in India, Tech Mahindra partner with Rajasthan Royals to build fan loyalty and fan monetization, Real money gaming platform WinZO Games raise $9.5 million in a debt round and Indian homegrown Short-video platform MX TakaTak partners with seven IPL teams with a focus to create a strong sports category. 

So, let’s get into the details……

After bringing the NFL and MLB to London the mayor aims to bring IPL to London

This week’s first update is about the potential of IPL matches to be played in London.

A few week’s ago when I covered the news of the ECB trying to excite BCCI with participation in The Hundred I had mentioned there was a wider plan to attract BCCI and tempt them to create a meaningful plan to create new engagement opportunities by playing IPL in London. And as it stands this week the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said that talks have been opened with the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Indian Premier League cricket tournament and its clubs over the prospect of hosting matches in London.

It has been reported that as part of his re-election bid, the mayor of London said he hoped to hold the matches at either the Kia Oval or Lords in a bid to bring tourists back to the capital following the pandemic.

He also said that English people would like to see Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Rishabh Pant play for their respective IPL teams in England. He also added that he is keen on working with English county team Surrey to bring the IPL to London, particularly in Lord’s or The Oval. Khan has suggested that BCCI could start with friendly matches later this year before organising league games. 

The first and only time an IPL franchise played in England was when Rajasthan Royals played a match at Lord’s in 2009 against Middlesex in the British Asian Cup.

However, IPL matches in England are highly unlikely in the coming few years because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and some technicalities. BCCI has conducted IPL seasons twice in foreign nations since its inception in 2008, and both times due to certain constraints. In 2009, BCCI conducted the first IPL season abroad in South Africa because of the general elections in the country. In 2014, the BCCI conducted the first few games in UAE due to the same reason. In 2020, the Indian board was forced to conduct its matches in UAE due to COVID-19 restrictions in the country. 

The city of London has seen the benefits of hosting Major League Baseball and American football and the deal with NFL is for at least 10 years. The mayor is really keen to see sport come to London and make the city the undisputed sporting capital of the world.

JSW Sports partner with India Accelerator to support sports-related tech start-ups in India   

Our second update is about an exciting partnership between JSW Sports and India Accelerator to find start-ups in the Indian sports entertainment sector.

JSW Sports, co-owners of the Indian Premier League team Delhi Capitals and owners of Indian Super League franchise Bengaluru FC, has partnered with India Accelerator, a business accelerator firm, to mentor start-ups working in the area of sports, sports data, gaming and esports. JSW Sports and India Accelerator will jointly offer a 16-week long accelerator programme to five to seven seed-stage start-ups. The program will cover areas such as sports data analysis, wearables and performance, e-sports, stadiums and venues, fan engagement followed by support and funding.

The selected start-ups in the programme will gain product and technical support, strategic delivery guidance, opportunities for concept testing, and network-building opportunities. The closure of the programme will involve a demo day attended by corporates, VCs, mentors and other partners, as well as external investors.

On the occasion of this groundbreaking announcement JSW Sports chief executive, Mustafa Ghouse said that “India has been at the forefront of technological advancements across sectors, and we see huge potential for homegrown players to revolutionise the sports and entertainment space in India and beyond. We are excited about the opportunity to mentor and work with promising start-ups in the cohort.”

It’s good to see JSW Sports working across the sports ecosystem and not just owning teams and supporting grassroots developments in India.

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Tech Mahindra partner with Rajasthan Royals to build fan loyalty and fan monetization

Update number three is about Tech Mahindra’s partnership with IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals.

India’s leading technology company Tech Mahindra and Rajasthan Royals partner to build on fan loyalty and fan monetization. Tech Mahindra and Rajasthan Royals will work towards providing an omni-channel experience for fans across social, email and push messaging starting from this year’s IPL. As part of the collaboration, Tech Mahindra will also support Rajasthan Royals to reach wider markets and audiences through comprehensive fan engagement platforms and digital campaigns. Tech Mahindra will also leverage new-age technologies to create revenue streams for the team and expand fan base.

The collaboration aims to derive three times the value from a loyal fanbase using Tech Mahindra’s digital platform powered by next-generation Artificial Intelligence and data analytics technologies.

This is a game-changing partnership and the beginning of a potential future trend in the IPL aimed towards personalized communication and engagement using deep insights and data analytics to build long term value for fans, partners, and franchises.

Real money gaming platform WinZO Games has raised $9.5 million in debt round from Courtside Ventures, Makers Fund and The Stuart Partners

This week’s fourth update  is about the Indian gaming start-up funding update

Real money gaming platform WinZO Games has raised Rs 69 crore or $9.5 million in debt round from Courtside Ventures, Makers Fund and The Stuart Partners. This comes seven months after the Delhi-based startup raised $18 million risk capital in its Series B round.

WinZo has approved the allotment of 361,643 convertible debentures at an issue price of Rs 1904.5 per debenture to raise Rs 69 crore to Courtside, Makers Fund and The Stuart Partners, regulatory filings show. 

Singapore-based Makers Fund and US-based Courtside had led WinZo’s Series B round in September last year. Makers Fund and Courtside have invested Rs 36.25 crore and Rs 18.12 crore, respectively. The new investor The Stuart Partners has put in the rest amount in this debt round.

According to Entrackr’s sources, the debt round will be utilised to offer exit to its early backer – Hike. After its recent pivot, Hike had entered the gaming space with a new product called Rush by Hike. 

Last month, Business Insider reported that Hike was in late-stage talks to sell its stake in WinZO. The Kavin Bharti Mittal-led firm had participated in WinZO’s $5 million Series A round in 2019.

Since Hike is now a direct competition to Winzo, the company is offering an exit to the Tencent and SoftBank-backed unicorn. Sources emphasised that Hike will completely exit from Wizo soon.

Here are some interesting facts about WinZo:

  • WinZo hosts multiplayer games across categories such as Casual, Card, Action, Esports and Battle Royale from third-party developers.
  • 25 Million registered users.
  • Players can play games available in 12 languages.
  • WinZo claims to clock over 1 billion micro-transactions every month.

Short-video platform MX TakaTak partners with seven IPL teams with a focus to create a strong sports category 

Our fifth and final update this week is about how MX Taka Tak is strategising to stand out from the crowded space of homegrown short-form video apps by entering the world of IPL.

Times Internet-owned short-video platform MX TakaTak has become the official short-form video partner for seven teams–Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. It has also become a digital co-powered sponsor on Disney+ Hotstar for IPL.

The platform, which claims to have over 150 million Monthly Active Users, plans to use IPL to build cricket category on the platform as well as brand affinity.

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.