IPL: The 2020 Showstopper Is Here

18 Sep,2020


By Shailesh Kapoor


The show must go on, it’s said. That famous phrase, which has its origin in the circus in the 1800s, has been used more than ever before during this pandemic period, not just by the entertainment industry but by people in all walks of life. You cannot put nations or cities on pause mode for months at end. And hence, the show must, indeed, go on, even if it looks and feels a little different from what it was meant to be.


IPL 2020 is one such show. When the event was indefinitely postponed in what seems like many months ago, many would have doubted if there would be an IPL season in 2020 at all. But the IPL brand is way too big to skip a season, unless there’s absolutely no choice. And here it is, starting tomorrow, on foreign land, without stadia audience, in a bio bubble.


IPL has been a runaway success since its start in 2008, and only continues to get stronger with each passing year. The last couple of years have seen an increase in viewership. While its digital viewership has zoomed to new levels altogether, even the traditional media (television) continues to get stronger for IPL every year.


Viewership increase in this year’s IPL is a given outcome. A cricket-starved nation will lap it up instantly. Time spent watching TV is anyway higher than usual levels because of lesser incidence of going out, especially on the weekends. The festival season, with its share of holidays, is setting in too. There are no headwinds at all as far as IPL viewership is concerned. Absence of spectators may impact the viewing experience a bit, but that wouldn’t take much time getting used to. And in any case, IPL is way too big for such factors to become sizeable viewing barriers.


There may be no headwinds for viewership, but the headwinds come in the area of revenues. Despite its huge equity, IPL cannot possibly offset the impact of a struggling economy, and both BCCI and Star India have taken this in their stride, as they work towards making the most of the power event.


While much is different about this year’s IPL, the one thing that makes it stand apart from previous seasons is that in 2020, its mere occurrence is a celebration. While eventually, the discussions around which team is doing well, who’s likely to win, etc. will pick up, those discussions will still be ‘secondary’ in nature this time. For many viewers, even those who follow IPL only casually, just the presence of IPL in prime-time everyday for seven weeks is a blessing. A pleasant distraction from what has been a tough and fairly deflating year for many.


This status that the IPL acquires in 2020 can potentially take the brand to another level altogether, where its meaning in Indian lives goes beyond routine entertainment, and acquires elements that are more intrinsic, such as feel-good and happiness. I was a bit surprised to see that the brand ads released so far do not bring out insights around this transcendental opportunity this season offers. Perhaps they have been put together in a hurry, given how things have unfolded.


So, get ready for the biggest IPL season ever. Even if the cricket is strictly average (never really the case with IPL), it will be a national feast like no other.



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