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CPL takes a leap with SRK as franchise owner; Hero as title sponsor

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MUMBAI: With two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp as title sponsor and actor Shah Rukh Khan as the owner of Trinidad and Tobago franchise, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is emerging as a substantial entity in the franchisee cricket fraternity.

Both developments are of huge magnitude for the mushrooming league as Khan’s involvement will drive his fans to the sports too, which will result in increased viewership.

The broadcasting right of CPL is with Multi Screen Media’s sports and entertainment channel Sony Six, which also telecasts Indian Premier League (IPL). A viewership boost will only help the channel generate more revenue.

Not long back after Hero invested heavily on Indian Super League (ISL) and bagged the title sponsors tag speculations were drawn that the automobile company will permanently move away from cricket and endorse other emerging leagues. However, the one-year deal with CPL quashes all speculations. As part of the deal, CPL will now be called as Hero Caribbean Premier League, which is synonymous with other sports properties like Hero Indian Super league and Hero Hockey India League.

Hero has been associated with cricket for over two decades in various capacities. In 2007, Hero was the Global Partner of the ICC World Cup, held in West Indies.

Speaking to Times of India after signing the deal with CPL franchise Trinidad and Tobago, Khan said, “This is in line with our vision to expand globally. We are thrilled to become part of the cricketing tradition of Trinidad & Tobago. The passion for franchise cricket in the Caribbean is evident with the success of CPL and we hope to bring all the best practices of KKR to the T&T franchise.”

Speaking about the deal, Hero MotoCorp CEO and managing director Pawan Munjal said, “Hero MotoCorp has been associated with sports, and particularly cricket, for well over two decades. The game of cricket has for long remained the most popular sport in India, and also in the Caribbean. As Hero rapidly expands its global footprint, we have been forging strong associations with sporting icons and events as part of our global brand building initiatives. Caribbean cricket and cricketers have always been highly popular in India and in many other parts of the world, and our title sponsorship of the CPL is a logical extension of our long-term association with the game. We look forward to a highly exciting month of cricket in the Caribbean.” 

Hero Caribbean Premier League chairman Richard Bevan added, “It is our pleasure to have the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp, as title sponsor of CPL. Hero has been one of the leading sponsors of cricket throughout the game’s history, and it is a testament to CPL’s growing success that the event will now be known as the Hero CPL. We look forward to Hero’s support and to making season 3 of the CPL the biggest yet.

CPL started two years back and has been growing in terms of both players’ participation and global viewership. Renowned international cricketers like Kevin Pietersen, Jacques Kallis and Shahid Afridi will join the Caribbean’s finest cricketers namely Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo. The tournament will also witness participation of talented local players from the Caribbean region.

CPL 2014 attracted a massive global audience in excess of 65 million. This number is expected to break all previous records to post record participation of spectators from around the world.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com a senior cricket expert asserts, “Caribbean cricketers have always been the best entertainers of cricket. If we see in recent times in the IPL, it has been Gayle. Pollard and Bravo have always been crowd pullers. Indian cricketers not participating will hamper viewership in India but if quality cricket is exhibited, then people will tune in provided there is no India match happening simultaneously.”

He further added, “Shah Rukh Khan owning a franchise is a big boost for the league, as he will make efforts to promote the franchise. KKR was the first franchise to start generating profit from IPL so with his business mind, he will make sure he gets good returns.”

A veteran media planning expert feels that though there are big names associated with the league, it is highly unlikely that the brand interaction will go anywhere close to IPL or any other India involved cricket match. “The game is clear, you have India playing cricket… it’s a festival. You have matches played in India, it is a celebration but cricket without Indian players will find it tough to garner viewership. Hero and Shah Rukh joining the league is good news for the league as well as for the broadcaster. However, at the end of the day, it’s the quality of cricket and cricketers that will get brands and viewers.”

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