The 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be remembered for many reasons but nothing can come close to the remarkable debut of Gujarat Titans. Doing well would have been good enough but to clinch the title in emphatic fashion by emphatically beating Rajasthan Royals. Last October, the Ahmedabad franchise of the IPL was picked up by Irelia Company Pte Ltd (CVC Capital) for Rs 5,625 crore. Globally, CVC has significant interests in sports among which are Formula One, football and rugby.
An elated Arvinder Singh, COO, Gujarat Titans, maintains the immediate objective was to qualify for the play-offs. “Nobody really gave us a chance and to win on our home ground in Ahmedabad in front of 1,00,00 spectators was quite incredible,” he says. The consistency factor was evident and Singh is quick to point out that “we were on top of the table right through.”
The impact on the brand value of the team will be interesting and, as Singh says, he has signed multi-year deals with 15 partners. “Also, we have a limited number of slots on the team jersey and these deals must be honoured,” is his stand. The opportunity lies in enhancing the number of partnerships – includes among others, Amul being the beverage partner or Kotak as the banking partner – and he remains confident that a lot can be done here.
According to Balu Nayar, former MD of IMG and a key architect of the IPL, this year’s results exemplify one of the original objectives for setting up the marquee tournament, which is to create a truly competitive league. “We did not want an equivalent of the EPL or LaLiga, where every year, you can predict that it’s one of two or five teams that is going to win, with a probability of over 90 per cent. This year, we’ve seen a rank newcomer, (Gujarat Titans) emerge on top, while the favourites, MI and CSK were the rank bottomers. It’s clearly a victory of the sport, of talent and thinking, as well as the joyful randomness of pure sport and that promises continuing engagement with fans,” he thinks.
Not surprisingly, Singh is reluctant to share specifics on brand value but industry experts see a story playing out. Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing Solutions, says it has catapulted after the victory. “In the IPL, there may not be much to differentiate between two teams. What varies is viewership for a CSK or MI.” To him, the brand value and viewership can only go up from here, since expectations from a team were also low.
The development is in the midst of IPL 2022 taking a hit on viewership and what that means for the next round of bidding. Nayar is clear it has been a great start for Gujarat Titans. “This victory should be viewed as a bonus and CVC's approach will need to be around an intelligent sports management cocktail to help raise the value of the team over time,” he says. By any stretch, this was not the best team in the tournament but they scored high on a few critical points. “First, this is probably one of the most professionally run teams, primarily driven by its ownership by CVC. Though they had a clearly sub-optimal team selection, the Kirsten+Nehra (batting coach and head coach) combination with their rich insights have helped to create a winning combination and, of course, helped by the extra hunger that an underdog has,” adds Nayar. Maybe the victory will just propel the viewership story.
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today