How did Indian Premier League become the 4th richest sports league in the world

The world of sports is dominated by leagues such as National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States of America and football especially in Europe such as English Premier League (EPL), La Liga, UEFA Champions League (UCL), etc. Huge amount of money is invested into the team development, players, sponsorships, broadcasting rights thus, making the stakes very high. 

In India, it is the ‘Indian Premier League’ that has put not only India but the whole game of cricket into the list of most valuable leagues.

Financial consultancy Duff & Phelps put the brand value of IPL at Rs. 47,500 crore in 2019. It says the value dipped to ₹45,800 crore in 2020 because of the pandemic. 

Within the span of 13 years, IPL has become 4th valuable sports league in the whole world. 

The website Athletic Panda, on the basis of average annual revenue, places IPL fourth in the list of the world’s top sports leagues in 2020. US leagues NFL (US$13 bln), MLB (US$10 bln) and NBA (US$7.4 bln) are followed by IPL (US$6.3 bln). EPL (US$5.3 bln) is next.

Can IPL overtake others and become the biggest sports league in the world?

According to the author, it already has overtaken other leagues of the world by storm. Here are the major reasons –

  • IPL has only 8 teams as of now and is just about 2 months long whereas other sports league have teams ranging from 20-40 while they last for 6-10 months. 
  • IPL is just 13 years old while others have been there for almost 50 to 100 years. 
  • By purchasing power parity which is if you equate the value of INR vs. US; IPL is already x10s time bigger in value than other leagues. 
  • Growth in IPL is absolutely phenomenal. In 2008, Mumbai Indians was the most expensive team in the IPL. The Ambanis had bought the team for $111.9 million. In 2021, team Lucknow was bought by Sanjiv Goenka owned RPSG group for a whooping US$1 billion. 
  • The broadcasting rights of IPL for 2018-22 by Star India is worth ₹16,347 crore, which assures ₹54.60 crore per match. IPL’s growth will be further strengthened if it fetches a projected ₹30-35,000 crore for broadcast rights in the 2023-27 period.
IPL Secretary Jay Shah and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly with MS Dhoni

How IPL got so successful?

The easy answer is due to the population of India and how cricket is considered as a religion. That makes a lot of sense considering that India is home to 1.339 billion people and cricket is their favorite sport. 

The consumption for IPL 2021 including Star Sports’ pre-match programming stands at 242 billion minutes, hitting more than 380 million TV views while IPL hits new high on Star India’s Hotstar with record 267 million viewers.  

But the problem is matchday sales (tickets, merchandise, etc.), it forms a very small share of revenue into IPL, India is still a developing country and people have a good habit of savings and cost cuttings and with pandemic, there is hardly any sales if compared with pre-pandemic era.

So, how IPL became the money making machine within such a small time? 

The answer lies in the game itself. Whether it is the 50 overs format game or 20 overs, the game has been gifted with ‘breaks’ after every over. After each over, the players have to the change the end and due to that, a 30 seconds break is possible leading to advertisements and endorsements. Unlike other sports, whether it is football or rugby, it gives immense time for the sponsors. 

And this is the reason why 50-over format will never die. More the ads, more the revenue for cricket boards and ICC. 

The IPL is where the BCCI makes 60% of its cash from. Industry gauges peg the IPL’s yearly income to be near to 40% of cricket’s worldwide income. Two new teams have been added into the IPL so the league is expected to make more money and gain more viewership.

With so much success, other countries too have up with their own leagues such as Pakistan Super League (PSL), Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the Big Bash League (BBL), etc. it is yet to see whether they can catch the popularity of IPL.

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