The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has begun on 9 April 2021 with the opening match between the Royal Challengers, Bangalore (RCB) and defending champions the Mumbai Indians (MI), which the RCB won by 2 wickets. The IPL is one of the most watched sporting event in the world, though this year spectator’s entry into the stadiums is barred due to the Corona-19 pandemic guidelines but it always attracted huge spectators/viewers from the first season. The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) viewership data revealed that the 2020 edition of the League played in the UAE was viewed by almost half of the television viewers. The cumulative viewership was 405 million aired through 21 channels of Star and Disney. The 13th edition viewership jumped about 25% over the 2019 edition. The female viewership was up by 24% whereas it was 20 % up in kids.
The launch of the IPL was supposedly a knee-jerk reaction to a private Twenty20 format league, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) founded in 2007 funded by the Zee Entertainment Enterprises. It included four international teams (World XI, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) and nine domestic teams located in major Indian cities and Lahore, Pakistan, Dhaka. However, the ICL was not recognized by the (BCCI) or the International Cricket Council (ICC). The BCCI was not pleased with its committee members joining the ICL executive board and imposed lifetime bans on players joining the ICL. The ICL went into oblivion after two seasons giving way to a franchise-based Twenty20 cricket competition, the Indian Premier League launched on 13 September 2007 with 8 teams. The then BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi was the mastermind behind the launch of IPL who spelled out the details of the tournament at the time of its launch. The League was run by a seven-man governing council composed of former India players and BCCI officials with Lalit Modi as the Chairman and Commissioner of the council. The first season started in April 2008 with a high-profile mega opening ceremony in New Delhi. In March 2010, two new franchises – Pune Warriors India and Kochi Tuskers Kerala joined before the fourth season. However, one year later, Kochi Tuskers Kerala side was terminated following breach of the BCCI terms and conditions. The Deccan Chargers was terminated in September 2012. The Sun TV Network won the bid for the Hyderabad franchise in the next month and the team was named as Sunrisers Hyderabad. The Pune Warriors withdrew from the IPL in May 2013 over financial differences with the BCCI and the franchise was officially terminated by the BCCI in October 2013. The then two-time champions, Chennai Super Kings and the inaugural season’s champion Rajasthan Royals were suspended for two seasons in June 2015 following their role in a match-fixing and betting scandal and Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions Rajkot replaced them for two seasons. Currently there are eight teams, each team will play each other twice in a round-robin format in the league phase. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs. The top two teams from the league phase will play against each other in the first Qualifier with the winner going straight to the final and the loser will get another chance to qualify for the final by playing the second Qualifier. The third and fourth place teams from league phase will play against each other in an eliminator match and the winner will play the loser from the first Qualifier. The winner of the second Qualifier will move onto the final to play the winner of the first Qualifier in the Final and the winner is crowned the Indian Premier League champion. The acquisition of players, their retention and transfer by the Franchise is done annually under guidelines of the League. There are many cash awards given to the players after every match. The former India Test and ODI player Brajesh Patel is the current Chairman of the IPL Governing Body.
Apart from the fun, excitement and razzmatazz, IPL is a money spinner for the BCCI, the franchise, the players and everyone. According to a 2015 survey by the ‘Sporting Intelligence’ and ‘ESPN The Magazine’, the average IPL salary of a player in the tournament is US$ 4.33 million per year, the second highest among all sports leagues in the world. The champions of the current Big Bash League will get roughly rupees 2.45 crore, which is almost seven times less than the salary of Pat Cummins alone in the IPL. The 2019 season of the IPL offered a total prize money of ₹500 million with the winning team netting ₹200 million. The first and second runners up received ₹125 million and ₹87.5 million respectively. The fourth placed team also won ₹87.5 million. The other teams are not awarded any prize money. The IPL rules mandate that half of the prize money must be distributed among the players. According to the BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal, the BCCI earned rupees 4,000 crore as revenue from hosting the 13th edition spanning 60 matches in 53 days. There is huge money involved in at every step of the League. The sponsorship fee paid by DLF for 2008-2012 was 40 crore per year while Vivo is paying 439.80 crore per year for 2021- 2023. Likewise all 8 franchise teams are having their own brand value with Mumbai Indians at the top with 761 crore. The first broadcasting rights held by Sony Pictures Networks and World Sports Group under a ten-year contract was valued at US$1.03 billion. In 2016, the annual advertising revenue surpassed ₹12 billion. On 4 September 2017, the Star India acquired the global media rights to the IPL under a five-year contract beginning in 2018 valued at 163.475 billion, a 158% increase over the previous deal and the most expensive broadcast rights in the cricket history. The brand value of each franchise is huge with Mumbai Indians at the top with ₹761 crore followed by Chennai Super Kings ₹611 crore, Kolkata Knight Riders ₹543 crore, Royal Challengers Bangalore ₹536 crore, Sunrisers Hyderabad ₹442 crore, Delhi Capitals ₹370 crore, Punjab Kings ₹318 crore and Rajasthan Royals ₹249 crore. As per the Indian point of view, the IPL annually brings in a lot of revenue to the economy of our country. According to the data obtained by the BCCI in 2015, the IPL contributed 11.5 billion to India’s GDP. It also brings out some real talents to the Indian cricket from the remotest corners of the country, who become our national heroes and brand ambassadors.