Nimbus Sports and the million dollar deals

MUMBAI: Many will agree that with new sporting leagues making in-roads in the country in 2014, the business perception towards each of these sports have also changed. The size of ticket sales has swelled up and so has the viewership patterns on TV- at least for a few.  There have also been some interesting million dollar sponsorship deals that sports management companies have been brokering for tournaments and franchises, beyond cricket. One such company is Nimbus Sports which is the sports marketing division of Nimbus Communications.

Nimbus Sport has been involved in managing rights transactions worth over US$ 2 billion to date, claims its website. According to sources, it currently has an extensive golf portfolio worth $3.5 million which includes the Hero National Open. The National Open which will be in its 51st edition in 2015, will be moving towards the European tour for the first time, making it the only European Championship in the South East Asia region.  

The championship will have prize money of $1.5 million. Nimbus has signed the deal with Hero as the title sponsor for three years and is valued at close to $3 million. The tournament will be held from 16 to 22 February 2015. Ten Sports is the broadcaster for the European tour in India. The championship will have 50 global broadcasters delivering 650 plus broadcasts with a combined excess reach of 530 million household across six continents, says a source close to the development.

Other sponsors who have come on board for the Open are international brands like Emirates, Rolex, and EP World through three season deals.  Industry experts peg these deals at quarter million dollar each.

Adding to this is another golf property, the Vodafone Tee Walk. In January 2014, the business arm of Vodafone India, Vodafone Business Services appointed Nimbus Sport to manage the corporate golf series. It was held across four cities and is currently in its sixth edition. To enhance the overall experience, the company introduced mobile apps and swing analysis. The series was telecast on Neo Sports.

For the ongoing Hero Indian Super League, the company was the official representative of commercial negotiations for Atletico de Kolkata. As part of the deal it helped the team gain a principal sponsor with telco Aircel. This deal is pegged at $1 million for a single year with the right to renew it further.

On the international front, early this year, Nimbus claimed to be the first Indian agency to broker an international deal with premier football club, Liverpool FC and XOLO.  This was the clubs first regional marketing partnership in India. According to sports experts, it is a two and a half season deal worth $1 million per year. The deal offered Indian fans to enjoy content from the club on their handsets, merchandise and the chance to meet former and current players from the club.

Says a brand consultant  who comments on this deal, “XOLO could have partnered with better known club like Manchester United but by partnering with Liverpool it wanted to be seen as a challenger to the existing order.”

Speaking on the nature of such deals, an industry expert on condition of anonymity comments, “These are not just plain vanilla deals but custom made opportunities for brands to invest. The Aircel deal indicates a region wise targeting, as the brand seems to push for a local connect. The landscape clearly is seeing business goals being integrated into better platforms not just for cricket, but other sports which are becoming popular.”

The company plans to work with leagues like Champions Tennis League, International Premier Tennis League and Formula 1 teams in the coming years.  Some of the deals could see bearing fruit by 2015 or 2016. Sources say, it was approached by Pro Kabaddi League teams this year but much could not be done as they were offered a turnaround time of 15 days which was too short. But in the coming years it seeks to tap on the growing ecosystem.

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