MUMBAI: Fresh from watching the national team do well in the ICC Cricket World Cup, Indian fans are now tuning in to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and, for the first time, several ecommerce start-ups are using the tournament to reach them.

Now in its eighth year, the hugely popular event got underway on Wednesday night with defending champions the Kolkata Knight Riders taking on Mumbai Indians.

Joining established sponsors and advertisers are a number of Indian ecommerce firms who hope the 47-day event will win them new customers, the Financial Times reported.

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Sony Entertainment Television is the IPL's main broadcaster and it expects as much as a quarter of its estimated advertising revenue of Rs9.5bn ($152m) to come from ecommerce firms.

Vinit Karnik, national director of GroupM ESP in India, the sports marketing consultancy, said a lot of ecommerce firms are recognising the IPL is the best way to win a wide audience even though "it is an expensive one".

"This year sponsorship of the IPL has hit a new high and lots of ecommerce companies are getting involved for the first time," he said.

FreeCharge, a platform for topping up mobile credit that raised $80m two months ago, is one of them, Tech in Asia reported, while TinyOwl, a location-based food ordering start-up, has recently signed a sponsorship deal Mumbai Indians.

Patym, a mobile ecommerce firm that sponsored Mumbai Indians last year, is expected to spend between $4m and $7m on sponsorship, advertising and freebies during the tournament.

Other ecommerce companies planning to take part include Cardekho, the auto portal, Magicbricks, the housing site, and online marketplace Snapdeal. Amazon, of course, will be a major player too.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Tech in Asia; additional content by Warc staff