IPL sponsorships: Why smaller startups will be missing in action this season

In the wake of the funding winter gripping the sector, startups have slashed marketing budgets and are viewing Indian Premier League sponsorships with caution. Especially the smaller ones.However, the overall sponsorship landscape remains resilient, as exiting brands will make room for new entrants across various categories in the ever-enticing IPL arena.

By  Tasmayee Laha RoyFeb 13, 2024 10:48 AM
IPL sponsorships: Why smaller startups will be missing in action this season
Amid the prolonged funding winter gripping the sector, startups have been forced to slash marketing budgets and are viewing IPL sponsorships with caution. (Image source: @IPL via X)

Smaller Indian startups are no longer being driven by the ‘go big or go home’ motto, which is perhaps understandable given that many have little more than chump change in their wallets. Those empty pockets have made many stay away from the Indian Premier League (IPL), an eyeball magnet that garnered 505 million viewers on TV and 449 million viewers on digital media in 2023.


Amid the prolonged funding winter gripping the sector, startups have been forced to slash marketing budgets and are viewing IPL sponsorships with caution. 

“Expect conservative spending from startups this season,” said Deleise Ross, Senior VP & Business Head, MudraMax. “The lesson learned from past IPL extravaganzas, like the 2019 edition, is that startups tend to overspend when flush with funds, often beyond their means.” 

Indeed, their spends have become so lean that they now evoke nostalgia among planners, who yearn for the big spending days gone by. “Nothing like those beautiful days of 2021 and 2022, when three-day-old companies were splurging on the IPL. That isn’t happening now,” said a planner. “But there are still enough brands to keep agencies busy.” 

It is not clear just how many startups are keeping agencies busy, however. While the likes of ‘fantasy sports company’ Dream11 are expected to maintain robust spending, a considerable number are certain to opt out of the biggest cricketing event of the year given that many are struggling even to pay staff salaries.


According to the experts, the last season of the IPL saw a 30 percent decline in startup involvement in partnerships and sponsorships, and that is likely to rise to 50 percent this year.

However, it’s not just the obvious ones such as the beleaguered Paytm and Byju’s that will be a no-show. Experts say heavy spenders such as Swiggy will also be laying low this IPL.

Cars24, Unacademy, and Swiggy Instamart are some of the major names from the startup world that didn’t show up at the IPL marketing gala in 2023.

“Byju’s has already stepped back, and it's likely that Swiggy will follow suit. This shift towards more prudent financial decisions may impact sponsorships, particularly in the food and delivery sector, for IPL 2024,” said MudraMax’s Ross.

“However, the overall sponsorship landscape remains resilient, as exiting brands will make room for new entrants across various categories in the ever-enticing IPL arena,” she said.
 All said and done, the IPL is too big an opportunity to miss for startups that have a little money to play with. Sports over-the-top streaming platform FanCode is one of them.

“We will look to continue innovating and delivering value to sports fans. We will be announcing some exciting content to elevate the experience for superfans on our platform. This will be through match previews, reviews and analysis, available on FC Channels and Shorts,” said Yannick Colaco, a co-founder.


“On the shop front, we are excited to go into the second year of our megastore partnerships with Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Punjab Kings. We are looking at working with more IPL teams to develop their mega stores,” Colaco added.    


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First Published on Feb 13, 2024 10:44 AM

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