Indian handset company Micromax has been announced as the owner of Indian Aces, an International Premier Tennis League franchise, which includes Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Gael Monfils, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, and Fabrice Santoro. The IPTL was founded by Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi. The amount paid by Micromax for ownership of the franchise hasn’t been disclosed by the IPTL, nor whether this amounts to 100% ownership of the franchise.

The tournament will be held across 4 selected cities in Asia: Manila, Singapore, Delhi and Dubai, between 28th November and 13th December, with the Delhi leg being held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium from 6th to 8th December. The League will feature 4 teams in the inaugural season before adding additional franchises to the calendar: the Indian “Aces”, the UAE “Royals”, Manila “Mavericks” and
Singapore “Slammers”, competing for a total prize money of USD 1 million.

For this ownership to amount to something, consumer acceptability of a new format for tennis is important: Each match will consist of 5 sets played by different players, including men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and Legends singles. Each game won counts as one point for the team points total and the team that wins the most games overall across the five sets wins the match.

Micromax isn’t the first Indian digital/media company to own a sports franchise:

– Famously, Venky’s Chicken had bought Blackburn Rovers in 2010, for around BGP 64 million. The club subsequently got relegated from the English Premier League.

– Deccan Chronicle had bought and Indian Premier League (Cricket) franchise Deccan Chargers, for Rs 428 crore in 2008. Financial difficulties meant that they put up their franchise for auction in 2012. The franchise was eventually terminated, despite it having been bought.