India cricket teams lose another partner as Byju’s ends ‘US$55m’ shirt sponsorship

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  • Byju’s made US$547m loss for 2021 financial year
  • Company also plans to not renew deals with ICC or Fifa

Education technology firm Byju’s has confirmed it will not renew its deal with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to be the lead sponsor of the national team’s shirts.

The Bangalore-based company has been a partner of the Indian cricket team since 2019, with its branding featured on the front of the team’s shirts. In June, Byju’s extended its deal with the BCCI until the end of 2023 for a reported US$55 million fee after its original deal expires in March 2022. Now, Byju’s co-founder Divya Gokulnath has told CNBC that the company will not extend its partnership agreement beyond March.

However, since then the digital education platform reported a loss of more than I₹ 4,500 crore (US$547 million) for the 2021 financial year, which led to the decision to lay off about 2,500 employees in October. Gokulnath said the company now aims to “hopefully” become profitable by March 2024.

The education technology firm appears to be ending several other major sports sponsorship deals. Byju’s co-founder and chief executive Byju Raveendran, who’s married to Gokulnath, stated at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos that the company does not plan to renew its sponsorship deals with the International Cricket Council (ICC), Fifa or the BCCI.

“The biggest optimisation that you will see over the next few months is that you will see us significantly cutting down branding because we think we have achieved the kind of brand awareness which is required for the segment as well as for the company. So you will see us exiting some of those branding contracts,” Raveendran told Moneycontrol.

“We won’t renew some of the partnerships. We have multiple partnerships with BCCI, ICC, and Fifa and by taking out these branding initiatives by not renewing them, that’s where you will see a lot of improvement.”

In response, a BCCI note on the matter reads: ‘BCCI received an email from Byju’s on 4th November 2022 requesting terminating the association post the recently concluded T20 World Cup. As per our discussions with Byju’s, we have asked them to continue the current arrangement and continue the partnership at least until 31st March 2023.’

SportsPro says…

The recent comments from two co-founders of Byju’s suggest the deal with BCCI is one of a number it will not renew as it plans to exit the sports sponsorship space.

For the BCCI, Byju’s decision to exit its agreement is a familiar tale. Byju’s predecessor Oppo also chose to terminate its partnership with the organisation early, cutting short its contract just two years into a five-year deal back in 2019. More recently, Mobile Premier League (MPL) Sports ended its deal a year early with the BCCI, with Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited (KKCL) now replacing the company as the national teams’ kit supplier.

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