IPL 2nd season to see few non-playing stars

Indian Premier League (IPL) season two, which kicks off in April-May this year, is unlikely to have the star-studded presence of last  year. Team franchise owners are dissociating themselves from Bollywood stars for promotions as they have cut down on unnecessary expenses and are focussing on revenue-generating models.

Property firm GMR-owned Delhi Daredevils is going ahead without Akshay Kumar, its brand ambassador last season. “Akshay had prior commitments so he could not continue with us, but that is only due to the lack of time,” GMR Sports V-P Amrit Mathur said. The team is not looking for another actor to replace Kumar. “We have no such plans at the moment,” Mr Mathur said.

Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians doesn’t plan to use Hrithik Roshan and Chennai Super Kings is not renewing its contract with two popular South Indian stars—Vijay and Nayanthara. “We have not taken any decisions yet on whether we will be involved with a Bollywood star,” a Mumbai Indians spokesman said.

An IPL official said: “While it is important to keep the entertainment quotient high, franchisee teams realise using
brand ambassadors doesn’t work and only adds to cost. The focus now is on getting sponsors to recover costs.”

India Cements-owned Chennai Super Kings has decided to do away with film stars altogether in its promotional plans. The team is associating only with cricketer Kris Srikkanth for season two. Both Tamil stars signed up last year are no longer with the team.

Film stars were roped in by franchisee teams last year to match the Bollywood glamour brought to the tournament by Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders and Preity Zinta’s Kings XI Punjab. Apart from attending matches to cheer the teams, these brand ambassadors appeared in print and TV ads, music videos and on hoardings to publicise the teams they were supporting.

Katrina Kaif, who promoted Vijay Mallya’s Bangalore Royal Challengers in season one, may continue this year. “Katrina continues to be associated with us,” a UB spokeswoman said. She declined to give details of the association.

Franchisees that had acquired IPL teams at a huge premium don’t expect to break even before three-four years. Mukesh Ambani’s Mumbai Indians was the most expensive team, bought for $111.9 million, followed by Vijay Mallya’s, who bought Royal Challengers for $111.6 million.

SRK, Juhi Chawla and Jai Mehta had bid for Kolkata Knight Riders for $75.09 million, and GMR bought Delhi Daredevils for $84 million. Finalist India Cements-owned Chennai Super Kings was bought for $91 million and winner Emerging Media’s Rajasthan Royals was bought for the lowest $67 million. Deccan Chronicle had acquired the Hyderabad team for $107.01 million.

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