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The Indian Premier League (IPL) has just started its 15th season of the T20 franchise competition that revolutionized the sedate sport of cricket. There does not appear any halting this juggernaut, which is cricket’s richest and most valuable property cementing India’s cricket board as the wealthiest and most powerful in the sport.

The glitz and glamor of the IPL, which only started in 2008, has become a marketing triumph and rocketed a brand estimated to be around $7 billion to make it transcend the sport to some degree.

And there is lot of money to be made for all involved. With the promise of much more to come with the IPL’s media rights from 2023-27 going to an e-auction in June and there is anticipation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) earning a staggering windfall of $6 billion.

With the BCCI predictably inflating its gold mine, the IPL has grown by two teams this season and added 14 matches. The two new franchises sold for an eye-watering $1.7 billion last October in sums that gobsmacked industry figures.

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Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners paid 56 billion rupees ($745 million) for an Ahmedabad-based team, while the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, which owned the now-defunct Pune franchise for two IPL campaigns, bid 70.9 billion Indian rupees ($945 million).

The IPL’s financial might was confirmed in 2017 when Star India bought the broadcast rights for a dizzying $2.55 billion. Star outbid Sony, the previous rights holders with a 10-year contract worth $1 billion, and 12 other bidders to grab the TV and digital rights from 2018-2022.

“With two new teams, more matches, more engagement, more venues, we are looking to take #TataIPL to newer and greater heights,” BCCI chief Jay Shah wrote on Twitter. “I’ve no doubts that with this process there will not only be revenue maximisation but also value maximisation, which will benefit India Cricket immensely.”

Star is set to be again be in the fray but other contenders for the television rights include Zee-Sony and Reliance Viacom 18. But there is much intrigue over digital rights with Amazon Prime, Meta, Google, YouTube and Disney+ Hotstar in the mix as the BCCI, according to reports in India, want a sizeable digital footprint with the imminent rollout of 5G in the world’s second most populous country.

“What we are looking for is the right market price for each vertical,” a BCCI official told the Hindustan Times. “There are a few players who may want only digital. Some may want only linear. There are those who may want both. In a consolidated bid, you don’t get the true value of each segment.”

Whatever the end result, the BCCI will be richer and the IPL even more alluring for players with its top earners already sporting pay packets over $2 million per season. But, once again, there will be ramifications for global cricket and a widening imbalance between the heft of the BCCI and the rest who mostly rely on India for financial survival.

The IPL already dominates two months of a congested cricket calendar. There is generally limited international cricket in April and May in an acknowledgment from national governing bodies that their star players will choose riches over patriotism.

With the IPL set to expand in the next cycle, there are fears from cricket officials worldwide that even more valuable space in the calendar will be eroded. Governing bodies, especially smaller Full Members with minuscule broadcast deals, are under the whims of the BCCI knowing that visits from India – even just a few limited-overs matches featuring their second-string teams – will essentially provide a year’s worth of revenue.

It leads to the BCCI having unparalleled bargaining power on the all-important ICC board as attention starts turning to the forthcoming chair election later in the year. Before the usual politicking and muckraking, the BCCI is about to get even richer as its money spinner shows no signs of waning.

Source: Forbes

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