Cricket craze has caught up with even banks and fintechs. With the nation gripped by the months-long IPL cricketing action, a host of brands, including start-ups, are set to leverage their partnerships with the tournament to the fullest. 

Not just start-ups, especially D2C players, some banks too have taken a shine to this trend.

Five banks and financial services companies, including IDFC First Bank, Equitas Small Finance Bank, and Hero FinCorp, have tied up with teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024.

Chennai-based Equitas Small Finance Bank, which has partnered with Chennai Super Kings (CSK), has 16 branches across the southern metropolis; IDFC First Bank had in 2023 tied up with Mumbai Indians for three years.

SBI Life Insurance announced its association with the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) franchise as ‘lead helmet partner’ for the 2024 cricketing season. According to the private insurer, its logo will feature prominently on the helmets of LSG players. 

National Payments Corporation of India’s RuPay, a card network in India, renewed its partnership for the next three years with IPL 2024.

Fintechs such as Slice, Groww, Upstox, and ACKO have partnered with teams and streaming platforms alike.

“Many sponsors belong to the BFSI [banking, financial services and insurance] category, which had reduced marketing spends substantially in the past two years and have made a comeback,” says a marketing executive.

With the IPL garnering big viewership numbers on TV and OTT streaming, BFSI and fintech start-ups are seemingly choosing their advertising medium based on their target audience.

While Dream11 will be co-presenting the mega event on Start Sports, which is the official TV broadcaster for the IPL, streaming platform JioCinema has roped in start-ups like CRED, Upstox, and PayZapp.

Pull factor for BFSI

Indian fintech start-ups are increasingly jumping on to the digital lending bandwagon, thanks to soaring disbursements in the previous fiscal year, reflecting the massive opportunity presented by the country’s credit-starved market, industry executives say.

Bankers say the tournament gives them access to a newer and wider audience base. 

“The IPL provides us a new, digital-oriented, diverse set of people with its domestic as well as international audiences, which could work as a great tool for us,” says a banking executive who declined to be named. It is also a means to targeting the most sought after GenZ segment. 

“Every sector in the BFSI vertical is targeting a digitally savvy customer, and IPL serves as a great platform for connecting with the audience, brand recollection and, thus, generating a huge number of clicks or downloads from the end-customer; but what matters is the conversion rate,” points out a Bengaluru-based fintech co-founder. 

This is, however, a long-gestation play — quite unlike the T20 or IPL formats themselves. 

As a bank CEO puts it: “Being associated with IPL has helped us reach many TVs and mobile phones and, as a result, we are looked at in most apps for loans or credit cards. Perhaps one in 100 searches are getting converted into enquiries or, ultimately, a product demand. But at least now we have the leads and access to a database. We have to work on increasing conversions.”

Sponsoring stardom

Not unlike during a festival season, the IPL carnival sees businesses pulling out all stops. From conglomerates to young start-ups, brands allocate huge marketing budgets to sponsor IPL teams and run advertisements between matches.

So much so that sponsorship revenue, on average, made up 17 per cent of IPL teams’ revenue in FY23, according to data from intelligence platform Private Circle.

Among the teams that reported their sponsorship incomes, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) topped at around ₹83 crore in FY23, followed closely by CSK at ₹78 crore and Delhi Capitals (DC) at ₹72 crore.

It should be noted that LSG was started in 2021. For the other teams, sponsorship revenue in FY23 remained almost the same as in FY22.

As a share of total revenue, sponsorship income stood at 34 per cent for RCB, 27 per cent for CSK, 20 per cent for DC and 21 per cent for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

Massive viewership

Overall, IPL teams earned ₹307 crore (on average) in financial year 2023, up by 23 per cent from ₹251 crore a year ago.

On the attraction that the IPL holds for brands, a report by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry body for television viewership measurement, found that the 2016 edition of the IPL contributed to 22 per cent of total sports viewership. By 2018, this had jumped to 43 per cent. 

Experts say this is set to rise even further down the years.