Cricket, a worldwide sport that began in the United Kingdom and played in over 104 countries in the world, is taking a hit—especially in its country of origin. In the UK, test matches attendance is falling with less and less people take interest in the sport. The primary reason? Cricket matches in the UK are no longer free as the broadcast rights now belong to Sky Sports. Overall club salaries initially rose while viewers fell in great numbers. In turn, it brought a general struggle in keeping the salary level of clubs and players.
Another problem lies with the game format as traditional games, also known as Test Matches, last for five days. Viewer attention span, at this day and age, isn’t as long as they used to be. Nowadays, no one wants to watch matches that long. In addition, working commitments in the UK is at all time high, which gives less leisure time for workers and employees.
While this is happening in the UK, there is one country where cricket gains more popularity every day, India. The world’s cricket fan base maybe over 1 billion but 90% of those fans are in India. This is due to the innovating game format introduced in India that cut down play duration from days to hours.
The Indian Premier League
The Indian Premier League or the IPL started only twelve years ago but has become one of the largest, bankable, and popular sports leagues in the world. In the last five years, its brand value doubled to 6.3 billion dollars in 2018. The league is so profitable that it raked 510 million dollars every year only from broadcasting rights. This ranks it among the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the Major League Baseball, as one of the top lucrative sports leagues on the planet.
How did the IPL become one of the powerhouses at such a short amount of time? Let’s take a look back at cricket’s history.
Modern cricket takes its mold from the 17th century after its recognition as a legitimate pro sport. County teams at the time started to hire professional village cricketers to play in their teams professionally. By the early 18th century, cricket leads London and other counties across England as the most played sports in the country.
The British Empire introduced the sport to its colonies; it was seen as a way of civilizing the world into British customs and traditions. By late 19th century, cricket’s popularity is apparent in modern Guyana, Australia, British India, New Zealand, and South Africa.
In 1877, the Test Cricket format, which lasts for five days, debuted. After a hundred years in 1971, One Day Cricket matches revolutionized the game with its shorter game duration. However, it was only in 203 when the modern 2020 was established. This features a streamlined version of cricket which allows faster gameplay and higher scoring and lasts for only three hours. While there are other versions of cricket in the world, this format remains the most popular thanks to its adoption by the IPL.
Cricket Sport in India
In India, Cricket sport is huge. Since its introduction in the subcontinent, cricket remains stay atop the most popular sport in the region. This helps the IPL become the richest sports property in the world. The IPL holds the 48-day tournament since 2007 with the support of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and business mogul Lalit Modi.
The IPL’s success lies in its administration and fanbase. At first, the league was patterned from major pro sports in the United States like the NFL. This means that all teams are owned and operated individually. There exists a separate T20 World Cup where Indian team comperes. This is distinct from the IPL even though the matches are set in India.
Like the NFL or the NBA, IPL rosters are full of top international talent. In 2018, IPL teams spent over 94 million dollars in buying 169 players in auction. This shows a significant increase from its 40 Million dollars for 60 players in 2017. The figures are set to grow exponentially.
Indian TV networks maximize viewership by lobbying matches to be played only on evenings and on weekends. In 2018 alone, IPL broke records when an average of 371 Million viewers watched with over 750 million viewers at the final match. Ad revenues from the season was over 276 Million dollars.
Future of IPL
In the future, this number is expected to rise as major broadcasting companies in the United States and in Asian countries such as Singapore eye on the success of the IPL and express interest in broadcasting the same in their local channels. Specifically, huge global brands Fox and Sony fought for the broadcasting rights from seasons 2018 to 2022 with the offer as high as 600 Million dollars. Fox won the digital rights in a whopping 2.5-billion-dollar deal with the league. With this, IPL matches are now valued at 8.47 Million dollars per game in contrast with the NFL’s 22.5 Million per game and the NBA’s 13.2 Million dollar per game.
With live video streaming and international TV broadcasting, IPL’s value is expected only to rise. More viewers equal more money, more money equals more funding, more funding means more advanced training, equipment, and talented players.
The IPL has reestablished the game and redefined the cricket sport. As the largest cricket league in the world, it seems the IPL can dictate where the sport will go and with the success it’s having, there will be no complains—only great sportsmanship, glory, and overall love for the sport