Television

'We have no intentions of selling Deccan Chargers currently' : Deccan Chargers COO Venkat Reddy

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For IPL franchise Deccan Chargers, it has been a story of ups and downs. The team had a miserable run in the inaugural season but bounced back strongly in the second edition to walk away with the title.

Even off the field, Deccan Chargers had to deal with uncertainty what with the main shirt sponsor changing hands every year. However in the fifth edition of the IPL, the franchisee has finally found its true calling striking a multi-million dollar three year sponsorship deal with Emirates besides roping in a host of other national and local sponsors.

The franchise has also been in the news frequently that it is on the blocks. Deccan Chronicle Holdings had mandated KPMG Corporate Finance to find a buyer and was looking at a valuation of $250 million in 2008.

In an interview with Indiantelevision.com‘s Ashwin Pinto, Deccan Chargers COO Venkat Reddy clears the air about the team’s sale reports by asserting that it is committed to the team and is not planning to presently sell the team. Reddy, a man of few words, also said that the franchise has broken even and is looking at good revenue growth this year.

Excerpts:

Will Deccan Chronicle sell IPL franchise if the valuation is attractive or will you wait for it to mature further?

Presently, we have no intentions of selling the team. Deccan Chargers is very much owned fully by Deccan Chronicle Holdings Limited.

Deccan Chargers posted revenues of Rs 1.15 billion in 2010. What has the growth been since then and have you operationally broken even?

We have achieved break even and expect the growth to be good this year. It is an exciting season for us and we have got good response from sponsors.

How did the deal with Emirates come about? Which are the other new sponsors who have joined?

IPL 2012 is a huge opportunity to leverage revenues with the Deccan Chargers being a well known and growing brand. Strategic trading in auction without compromising on the team balance has brought in sizeable revenue in its kitty. We are privileged to have Emirates as our team sponsor. And our other main sponsors are Jaypee Cement, TVS Motors, United Spirits, Kingfisher, Xenoh and Puma. We were associated with Jaypee for the inaugural IPL season and are pleased to have them back. We are reaching out to our fan base, taking the matches to the catchment areas of Vizag and Odisha.

Is the Telangana issue going to affect your ticketing revenues once again?

This year we have three confirmed cities as Deccan Chargers home grounds - Vizag, Cuttack and Hyderabad. Our matches are well distributed in these three cities, which will see a considerable growth in gate revenues. Added is the special hospitality seating areas created for the spectators to enjoy the matches and have a great experience. The match entertainment is also very carefully planned, keeping the local flavour in view.

‘We have achieved break even and expect the growth to be good this year. Emirates is our team sponsor. Our other main sponsors are Jaypee Cement, TVS Motors, United Spirits, Kingfisher, Xenoh and Puma‘

Given that it has been four years since IPL started, has licensing and merchandising become a serious revenue stream or is there still a long way to go?

Yes, it is and there are challenges yet to be faced.

Has Deccan Chronicle got what it aimed at when it decided to be involved with the IPL franchise?

Deccan Chronicle has always supported sports and has nurtured the Deccan Chronicle cricket team for years. IPL was a great opportunity to get into big league and cricket is religion for us Indians. We are now a well known sports brand globally and want to extend further. T20 cricket is challenging. We have emerged as winners in 2009 after suffering a major setback in the inaugural season. We believe in working hard and motivating our team to perform well without putting any pressure. We have seen a tremendous growth trend in our fans base, which continues. As per the latest study on Top Ten Social Media Influencers by DataQuest, Deccan Chargers has been in the Top Ten Indian Brands.

How do fans perceive the Deccan Chargers and how do you maintain a relationship with them across the year even after the IPL season gets over?

Deccan Chargers is always full of surprises. We have a loyal fan base that supports us thick and thin. We maintain interaction through the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

What marketing activities are being done to create excitement?

Our local campaigns have already started. We recently organised events in Hyderabad and Vizag like the See U in Blue event, Buildings lit in blue, Cycle rally, Beach Corporate Cricket etc. A separate fans blog, selecting some active fans on social media sites and giving away DC goodies and many other fan engagement activities are lined up. unstoppabulls.deccanchargers.com/ featured a contest to find "Super Blogger, Photographer & Videographer" who‘ll be part of DC Crew to follow & cover team DC.

Could you talk about your deal with My Rewards International?

We have agreed to market membership based programmes under a co-branding arrangement. This will give our members and their family access to the My Rewards benefits which are available throughout India and the world. Similarly, over one million My Rewards members throughout India, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Philippines will have the opportunity to join the Deccan Chargers and enjoy all the benefits of being a member of one of the premier IPL teams. I am sure our fans will enjoy the plethora of rewards.

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