Sports licensing has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the licensing business worldwide. During the recently concluded third season of IPL, sports licensing was at an all time high. IPL has been the gateway to the licensed merchandised like caps, T shirts, flip-flops, etc in India. These merchandise are the outcome of the licensing tie-ups with the sports wear manufacturers and the participating teams in the tournament. The entire initiative successfully created an excitement among the cricket lovers, which we can call a spin off from the actual centre of attraction, i.e., the tournament itself. But the manufacturers and retailers made hay while the sun shone from these spin offs, which were no less intense in terms of fan involvement. Apart from the sports wear manufacturers like Reebok, Adidas and Puma who sold the licensed merchandise through their own retail outlets, the retailers like The Loot, Odyssey and Delhi-based Twenty Four Seven joined the bandwagon through their tie-ups with the manufacturers. Recent sports licensing deals However, the deal to reckon with, is the recent announcement by Billionaire Sports Pvt Ltd about tying up with Singapore based Manchester United Food and Beverage (Asia) Pte Ltd (MUFB) to launch Manchester United Restaurant & Bar. The famous football team, Manchester United, of the UK has licensed its club name to run a chain of restaurants and bars. MUFB possesses the exclusive rights to operate franchise and develop a chain of Manchester United restaurants and bar concepts in the Asia - Pacific region. Planet Sports, the country's leading multi-brand sports and lifestyle specialty retail chain announced the launch of Wilson's revolutionary and technologically advanced 'BLX series of Tennis Racket.' Wilson Racquet Sports is a division of Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods, one of the world's leading manufacturers of sports equipment and owned by Amer Sports. Wilson Racquet Sports has an exclusive marketing tie-up with Winner Sports, a fully-owned subsidiary of Pantaloon Retail India Ltd., part of Future Group, for licensing and distributing its product in India. The entire range of Wilson BLX technology series will be retailed through 69 specialty Planet Sports outlets in the country. Ravdeep Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Winner Sports Pvt. Ltd. says, "It is a proud moment for us to introduce such a cutting-edge technology in rackets that will go a long way towards improving the way tennis is played in India and the world. Through Planet Sports, our endeavour is to pioneer innovations and bring to India unparalled and latest technologically-advanced sports brands. The BLX racquet is a part of that vision." Opportunity in store It's time, companies realised how sports can aid in building a brand. Some already have, for instance, Bharti Airtel become one of the sponsors of the world's richest club United Manchester. There are hoards of opportunities in store for brands, as India is all set to host Commonwealth Games, and chances are there for Formula1 race to be held in the country. Brands must seize the opportunity to maximise their brand equity by associating with the sports events that are in the pipeline, so that licensing emerges as the strongest means for churning out substantial business.
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