New Delhi: The Indian Premier League (IPL) has become one of the world’s most valuable ones in terms of title sponsorship, with the rights for the next five years (beginning 2018) going to Chinese mobile phone company Vivo Electronics Corp. for Rs2,199 crore.

That translates into Rs440 crore a year, higher than the Rs330 crore a year Barclays Plc. paid to be title sponsor of the world’s most watched sports league, the English Premier League, between 2013 and 2016. The popular football league is now sponsored by Mondelez International Inc., but financial details of this deal have not been made public.

The amount paid by Vivo is significantly higher than what PepsiCo. India Holdings Pvt. Ltd agreed to pay in 2012 for title sponsorship of the popular Twenty20 cricket league. PepsiCo agreed to pay close to Rs400 crore over five years. It terminated the deal in 2015 for reasons that have never been explicitly mentioned, although that was two years after IPL was roiled by a betting controversy.

Vivo stepped in and took over the title sponsorship of the league for the next two years for Rs180 crore.

“This is testimony to the position that IPL holds, being one of the top-most sporting leagues in the country," said Rahul Johri, chief executive, the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo Mobiles India Pvt. Ltd, owned by the same conglomerate as Vivo, was the only other bidder with an offer of Rs1,430 crore. While mobile phone makers Xiaomi Corp. and Intex Technologies (India) Ltd had picked up the bid documents, neither put in a final bid.

Hiren Pandit, chief executive at TransStadia, a sports infrastructure firm, said the money spent by a brand is linked to the importance it attributes to a particular market. “It is clear that Vivo views India as a big market and wants to establish itself in the smartphone segment in the country in a big way. It clearly wants top-of-the-mind recall. Any brand that’s looking to build itself will look at leagues like IPL which come with a high viewership premium."

Vivo had a 7.6% share of the Indian smartphone market in the last quarter of 2016, according to market research firm IDC. The company was in fifth place after Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, Xiaomi, Lenovo Group Ltd and Oppo.

In May, Vivo acquired the title sponsorship rights for the Pro Kabaddi league for a period of five years, starting 2017, for Rs300 crore.

In the upcoming five IPL seasons (2018-2022), Vivo and IPL will co-operate extensively on sports events, on-ground activations and marketing campaigns, BCCI said in a statement.

Popular leagues such as the NFL and the NBA in the US do not have title sponsors.

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