Editor’s Pick: Indian Premier League- Journey of biggest annual cricketing event

After making shockwaves in 2008, IPL has grown on to become the biggest T-20 tournament and a financial juggernaut in the world.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has emerged as the premier sporting event in India, with a global viewership and a fan following unmatched by any other cricketing league. Along with producing the astounding quality of cricket on the pitch, it has also managed to become a commercial powerhouse in the past 12 years.

The unprecedented response from advertisers, broadcasters, sponsors, affiliates, partners, and the viewing public year after year, has made the IPL the most keenly awaited event in the campaign calendar for advertisers. The journey of IPL has been astonishing, breaking records every year and scaling new heights.

IPL catering to a large viewership in India

The viewership of IPL itself speaks about the success of the league, showing a surge in numbers and reach expanding to every part of the world. The opening edition of IPL witnessed 102 million views, which itself was a huge number back then in 2008 since there was limited access to digital media and smartphones. Since then, this number has kept on increasing. A remarkable rise in viewership was witnessed between IPL 9 and IPL 10, seeing a 40 percent increase in viewership as compared to previous editions.

As per data shared by BARC in 2019, a whopping 462 million viewers watched IPL on Star network channels. The reach of the tournament was up 12% compared to the previous season. On digital media, Star India’s video streaming service Hotstar recorded 300 million viewers, with a peak concurrency of 18.6 million viewers for the final match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.

Mouthwatering Sponsorship revenue

IPL is valued at Rs 47,500 Cr or $6.8 billion. It is one of the hottest sporting properties that has always attracted a wide range of brands from diversified portfolios. Back in 2008, DLF, India’s biggest real estate company, paid a hefty sum of ₹ 200 crores to bag the title sponsorship for the tournament.

In 2012, Pepsi took over DFL as title sponsors by striking a deal in the region of ₹396 crores. Airtel, India’s largest telecom company, was also in the mix, but the bid worth ₹316 crores was well short of what Pepsi offered.

In 2016, mobile company Vivo replaced Pepsi as the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL), signing a five-year deal worth ₹2200 crores. Vivo decided to pull out of the deal in 2020 due to ongoing political tensions between India and China. As a consequence, BCCI released a fresh tender. Dream 11 bagged the title rights by lodging a bid worth ₹220 crores for the ongoing tournament in UAE.

Apart from Title sponsorship, central sponsors also add a lot of revenues. In 2019, BCCI recorded ₹620 Cr from the central sponsorship pool. However, the revenue from the central sponsors dropped to ₹380 crores in 2020 as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Media Broadcasting revenues

When IPL came into the picture in 2008, Sony Entertainment acquired the deal for ten seasons at $918 million. The breakdown of this fee suggests that Sony paid a whopping $1 million for one single game.

Later in 2017, when the media rights were on sale, Star India acquired them for five years at an astonishing premium of $2.55 bn. It is a record media rights purchase in cricket history. As per the data available, Star India generated more than $276 mn from advertisement revenues in 2018.

For IPL 2020, despite the ongoing pandemic and the financial situations prevailing in the market, Star India has almost sold 90% of its ad inventory at premium rates. Uday Shankar, Star India chairman, also admitted that Star is riding high on ad revenues and is eyeing a record viewership.

Digital Presence of IPL

IPL is one of the fastest-growing sports leagues on social media platforms in recent years. Currently, it has 20 million followers on Facebook, 5.4 million on Twitter, and 4.2 million followers on Instagram. Considering the love for cricket in India, social media organizations can leverage the game to gain a staggering amount of viewership on their platforms.

Individual franchises have also left no stone unturned, coming up with various strategies and ways to connect with the fans and keep them entertained.

Mumbai Indians is the most followed team on social media with 24 million followers across different platforms, followed by Chennai Super Kings (23 million followers), Kolkata Knight Riders (21.8 million), Royal Challengers Bangalore(17.2 million), Kings XI Punjab (11.9million), Sunrisers Hyderabad (9.7 million), Delhi Capitals (8.7 million) and Rajasthan Royals (6.3 million).

Apart from the big following on social media, IPL has also seen a big spike in the number of tweets compared to other major tournaments like UEFA Champions League, NFL, NBA, and MLB.

IPL continues to be a revenue-generating model for BCCI. It is aptly said that IPL is ‘India ka Tyohaar’ for bringing sheer excitement and fun to fans and commercial giants. It is surely going down in the history of Indian Sports as one of the biggest leagues across the globe.

Archil Katiyar

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