2018: The Mother-of-All IPLs

25 May,2018

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

It’s drawing to a close this Sunday. And not many would contest that the 11th edition of the Indian Premiere League (IPL) is arguably its bestever. More than 50% of the 54 league games were open for either team to win when only the last two overs of the final innings were left to be bowled. For a sport that’s often marred by one-sided contests, that’s a staggering stat. Till the start of the last weekend of the league stage, seven out of the eight teams were in contention for a spot in the playoffs, with two spots still open.

 

That’s the on-field side. From a business perspective too, this IPL has been a huge success. Star Sports has managed to grow ad revenues on an already-premium property, with estimates of more than 40% growth doing the rounds. The digital playout has contributed to this growth in no small measure, and that’s a headline in itself.

 

Matches have rated well, and it’s one of the few IPLs where the ratings have held on week-on-week, than show a typical lull in the middle period. Star Sports left no bases uncovered on the viewership front. Language feeds in all key markets have been covered, and there’s even a premium service for English-speaking aficionados – The Select Dugout on Star Sports Select HD. In no uncertain terms, I believe that cricket coming out of India has not seen better quality of commentary before.

 

I hear that franchises have also begun to break even now, and are more invigorated than ever before. Fan bases for at least four teams (CSK, MI, KKR and RCB) are now firmly in place. The other four, however, need to do some work in that area. For example, Sunrisers Hyderabad, despite its great performance this season, lacks a core fan

 

The huge success of this year’s IPL, however, puts into perspective the yawning gap that exists between IPL and other forms of cricket. Yes, India T20s tend to get similar ratings. But to achieve this level of viewership over 57 games packed over a month-and-a-half is unthinkable for any other sport in India, and dare I say, the world. Most top leagues across sports worldwide do not have a cramped calendar like IPL. Here, it’s a game or more everyday, and there are rarely any “small” games as such.

 

Fifty-over cricket has anyway moved to being a niche sport, with India match ratings typically at 50% level of T20s. Even a big tournament like the Cricket World Cup delivers on the strength of the big India games, and it’s around those half-a-dozen games that the entire tournament inventory is

 

Various other sports in India have replicated the IPL model, and some have achieved their share of success too. But when it comes to sheer scale and impact, IPL has no match. And the 2018 edition was a telling reminder of

 

Here’s hoping for an exciting and closely-contested finale on Sunday.

 

 

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