The Indian Premier League (IPL) has redefined cricket. It has helped the ‘Gentleman’s Game’ win back fans, seen franchises splurge eye-popping sums on unheralded rookies, and added edginess to the sport. As the IPL’s 14th season begins, Mint explores the phenomenon
What is IPL and how did it begin?
The IPL is a 20-over franchise cricket league, played between late afternoon and late night, with eight teams based out of as many Indian cities competing for glory. T20 has had humble beginnings, with the England and Wales Cricket Board officially rolling out the format in 2003 for the English counties, a year after the Benson & Hedges Cup ended. Two years later, Australia beat New Zealand in the first international men’s T20 match. In 2007, India upstaged Pakistan to win the inaugural ICC World Twenty20, creating a frenzy. Sensing a huge market potential, the BCCI set up the IPL, and the first edition was held in 2008.
How has the tournament fared?
The IPL has transformed cricket in more ways than one. Its format, with strict fielding restrictions, lends itself to unbridled excitement as batsmen usually take the bowlers to the cleaners. It has democratized cricket, provided a dream platform for little-known players to make a mark, and many millions in earnings. The IPL is the world’s richest cricket league, helping its administrator, the BCCI, plough back vast sums into grassroots cricket facilities, ensuring a steady supply of world-class players snapping at the heels of senior pros to grab their place in the national side.
What is a player’s pay structure in the IPL?
Players are purchased at auctions, which start at their floor prices. The price at which a player is bought becomes his salary for the season. Since the IPL needs to retain its appeal, the BCCI ensures availability of top names by paying, from the league’s central revenue pool, 20% of a player’s price tag to his home board.
What are the revenue streams?
A critical source of revenue for the IPL is the media rights that a channel purchases to broadcast the matches on TV. Sony Entertai-nment had acquired these rights for the first 10 years until 2017 for a total ₹8,200 crore. For the next five years until 2022, Star India bagged these rights for ₹16,347 crore. Title sponsorship is another major contributor. Vivo is the title sponsor, and had bought the rights for five years for about ₹2,200 crore. Ticket sales, merchandising, boundary advertising, and sponsorships are other sources.
How has it impacted other sports in India?
It has had a domino effect on other sports in India. The Pro Kabaddi League was watched by 435 million people during its inaugural 2014 edition, only behind the IPL’s 552 million viewers. We have similar leagues for hockey, football, badminton and the like. A leitmotif, which is much more pronounced in the IPL, is that these leagues offer a heady concoction of glamour, politics, and corporate power, giving them unprecedented clout as a vehicle for brand marketing. The games have found new admirers.