The Big Deal: How IPL Money Responds to Indian Cricket’s Ecosystem

A year ago at Lord’s, New Zealand declared their second innings and set England a target of 273 from 75 overs on the final day. Joe Root and Chris Silverwood’s England opted to play for a boring draw instead. Just days ago at Trent Bridge, England’s fourth innings goal against New Zealand was 299 from 72 overs on the final day of the second Test. Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s England won 50 overs, winning by five wickets. Jonny Bairstow scored a brilliant 136 from 92 balls and after that he hailed the Indian Premier League.

“There were a lot of people saying I shouldn’t be at the IPL and should be playing county cricket. Yes, people say it would be fantastic if you had four red ball cricket matches under your belt (before a series of tests) but unfortunately this is not happening with the current programming of everything in the world, ”a said Bairstow, adding: “Decisions are decisions and if I could say what I wanted then… so be it. But there are elements where you play against the best in the world at the IPL. Being able to have these speeds, being able to change them, change them, is important.

A section of English cricket still resents the IPL. But luckily, English cricketers and the country’s cricketing hierarchy have embraced the most popular T20 league in the world because they know that the IPL, overall, has enriched the game.

The new IPL media rights deal has been sold for Rs 48,390 crore for the 2023-2027 cycle and before we scoff at the ‘dumb money’ and ever-increasing popularity of a T20 tournament, here’s how the IPL has contributed to the whole India cricket ecosystem…

Half of Rs 48,390 crore would go to the original eight franchises. The remaining 50%, or Rs 24,195 crore, would be split between players and state associations. State associations will receive 70% of this money, allowing them to develop infrastructure and facilitate grassroots progress. The vast pool of talent in Indian cricket is a direct result of developments in grassroots and age group cricket. India can now field at least two teams simultaneously at international level and in the future this is what we would see more often.

It is encouraging to see that the BCCI has significantly increased the pensions of former cricketers and umpires, attesting to good intentions. Meanwhile, at $15.1m per game, the IPL has comfortably overtaken the English Premier League, where broadcasters pay around $11m per game. It is now the No. 2 sports league in the world, behind the National Football League (NFL).

The NFL operates in a US market where the media and entertainment industry generates $700 billion in revenue. From this perspective, broadcasters willing to pay so much for a sport played seriously in only a dozen countries and in a media and entertainment market tiny compared to the United States defies all logic. Again, as BCCI President Sourav Ganguly said, “IPL’s growth story and phenomenal rise in the sports world is a result of people’s immense faith and belief. in the direction of BCCI and its workforce to continue to deliver in all adversities. I am sure that with the continued support of everyone in the ecosystem, we will be able to take the IPL brand to new heights on the global sports scene.

Still, it might be difficult for broadcasters to recoup the money, at least initially. “With 60% of current advertisers being start-ups and with the global funding mood muted, it will not be easy for broadcasters to recoup the investment for at least the first two years of the contract period. (They) may have a tough time,” Himanshu Arora, co-founder of marketing and advertising agency Social Panga, told The Indian Express.

When it comes to cricket, there are fears that the IPL could end up gobbling up the top class national cricket, the Ranji Trophy. We don’t know what will happen in the future, but for now BCCI remains committed to the game’s traditional format. Covid had forced the cancellation of the Ranji Trophy last season. BCCI had organized the national tournament for a limited time, but last year organizing a multi-day cricket was next to impossible. The Ranji Trophy is being played in a modified format this term and the cricket board deserves credit for it. A tournament with a longer duration and 38 teams operating out of bio-bubble, presented a great challenge. BCCI passed the test. They could have avoided top-class domestic cricket this season too if they were indifferent.

As BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said: “The idea is to balance cricket and commercial interests as BCCI is committed to developing the sport in the country through cricket. The money we generate through media rights will ultimately benefit grassroots cricket in India and that is what ultimately matters.

BCCI hit the right note. An increase in the Ranji Trophy prize should be the next step. Central contracts for top-class domestic cricketers, also offered by the respective national associations, are long overdue.


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