MUMBAI: Broadcasters in both India and the United Arab Emirates are confident of gaining large audiences and advertising revenues from the India Premier League but many of the teams themselves are finding sponsorship difficult.

With the first game taking place in Sharjah next week, the Hindustan Times reported a "frenetic" search for sponsors, with some franchises having around one quarter of the number of last year.

Atul Srivastav, partner at Gaames Unlimited, which manages sponsorship and endorsement opportunities for leading cricketers, noted a couple of reasons for the current situation.

"Since the first leg of the tournament is being held in the UAE, sponsors are a bit worried as it is going to affect their marketing activation and promotional activities, which are localised in nature," he pointed out.

"Secondly, the turbulent phase IPL is passing through owing to recent controversies, the sponsors are wary of putting money on an investment where returns look dodgy," he added.

One such example was Panasonic, the consumer electronics brand, which last year took a space on the shirts of the Delhi Daredevils team – franchisees sell space on players' shirts, caps and helmets – but is not doing so this time around.

"The mass interest in IPL has gone down considerably every year, resulting in lowering of the return on investment," said Manish Sharma, Panasonic MD. "As a result, we are likely to spend less on IPL this year."

But Srivastav remained confident agreements would be reached. "IPL is still prime property; it will not go unsold," he said. "I see a lot of last-minute deals getting finalised with lot of small brands in the cell phone and real estate sectors at a lesser price."

Meanwhile the advertising industry in the United Arab Emirates is preparing for a mini-boom as the first 20 games of the tournament take place in the country, Gulf News reported.

"IPL is a big-ticket event and many will want to ride the wave," said Amit Raj, general manager at media agency BPG Maxus. He had already seen some big investments from clients in banking, real estate and male grooming products.

The IPL's main sponsor, soft drinks giant Pepsi, has developed a campaign offering internships to younger cricket fans with some having the opportunity to attend games in the UAE and create content to link fans and celebrities.

Data sourced from Hindustan Times, Gulf News, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff