Ever since COVID-19 has entered our lives, our daily dose of entertainment in the form of watching broadcast television has been put to a halt. While surfing through the television, we used to have the chance to switch from one channel to another getting a peek of our favourite antagonist from a dramatic TV show concocting a plan to teach her goody-two-shoes daughter-in-law a lesson. Or our favourite travel show host was gobbling up the pani-puri one after the other in the alleyways of Mumbai. Those days seem to be long gone now. Since the lockdown, the entertainment showbiz has taken a break, because of which we see older serials being broadcast on the television these days.
Due to COVID-19, people have nothing to do and nothing to watch. Amid this, people were really hoping that the IPL would come in their lives like a blessing and provide them with their daily dose of sports entertainment. If nothing else, at least the return of the IPL would ease their boredom a lot while also adjacently helping the economy revive. But on 13th March 2020, the BCCI announced for the first time that they would suspend the tournament in the view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Ever since then, the BCCI had been indecisive about when they would eventually host the 13th edition of the IPL. In May, the BCCI announced that the tournament would be postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
For a few die-hard Indian cricket fans, the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic was probably fully realised only when the 13th edition of the IPL was cancelled temporarily. But the misery of these fans was short-lived. On 24th July, the IPL officials finally disclosed the news that the tournament would indeed be played in the UAE between 19th September and 10th November provided the Government of Indian sanctioned their permission. The matches will be played keeping in mind the rules and regulations laid out to prevent contracting the COVID-19 disease.
IPL as an economy booster
The annually held IPL 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 Rs. 11.5 billion to India’s GDP. In fact, over the years, the advertising revenue of Sony Pictures Network increased from 7 Billion Rupees in season 7 to 13 Billion Rupees in season 10 proving that majority of the revenue of IPL is through its sponsorship with national and multinational business and networking companies. Not just India’s, but in 2014, when the IPL matches were briefly conducted in the UAE owing to general elections taking place in India, the IPL had contributed around 275 million Dirhams to United Arab Emirates’ economy too. Let’s have a look at a few factors that will assist IPL in boosting the economy of the home ground, i.e. India, this season.
1. Merchandise sale: As a sport, cricket is enjoyed across various age groups and genders. Its merchandise is consumed by the same even more so. From children to octogenarians, no one is shy to don the blazing blue Mumbai Indians jersey and wave the flag while cheering for their favourite team. The merchandise market is a gargantuan market that observes a profitable business taking place consistently.
In 2014, it was estimated that sports merchandise generated close to $20 Billion in revenues globally. There are 8 teams currently active in the IPL. Each team has a different fanbase and hence a different variety of merchandise designed to appeal to this fanbase. Since there is no guarantee that the matches will generate ant sort of tickets revenue, a clever marketing tactic would be to develop and distribute a wider variety of merchandise.
2. TRP for sports channels and Membership packages for online platforms: As of 2017, the IPL tournament has the highest viewership amongst all the other professionally known sports leagues in India. In 2017, the television viewership of the IPL season 10 finals was accounted to be somewhere around 40 million impressions. Meaning, 40 million viewers were targeted through advertisements shown in breaks on the day of the final match alone! For further reference, below is a graph representing the overall viewership.
3. Sponsorship and advertisements: BCCI had announced that cancelling the tournament altogether would mean a revenue loss of Rs 3869.5 Crores or $530 million. But out of this sum, approximately 200 crores and 400 crores are acquired through central sponsorship revenue and title sponsorship revenue respectively. Presumably, this season of IPL will be no different in terms of sponsorship revenue. This will be consequently better (if not resolve) the economic crisis that the country is in at the moment.
Each brand that is promoted through IPL itself promotes a range of different products. The brand value of the Mumbai Indians alone in 2017 amounted to over 100 million U.S. Dollars. Also, a mainstream social media website was willing to spend $600 million just to claim the digital rights of the tournament for 2018-2022. This means that the profit that these brands make must be much more. The IPL's ability to develop brands has helped a lot of companies make a direct profit through advertisements and product placement techniques. This season too, the cricket spirit will hopefully uplift the Indian economy.
Everything aside, managing the IPL season this year will be a real task. Even though there are plans to play the entire tournament in a bio-secure bubble, guidelines devised will have to be followed conclusively. All that is left is for us to watch how the BCCI will strategise their ways around the ongoing pandemic and how they will adapt to fit in with the new form of marketing we see nowadays. Maybe the stadiums won’t be filled with roaring spectators cheering and shouting for their teams, and maybe it is for the best, but the enthusiasm for cricket and the support in the hearts of people for the IPL will be no different than before.
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Q. Where will IPL 2020 take place?
A. A total of 56 matches will be played during the league stage of the tournament across three venues in the UAE, i.e. Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai.
Q. Will there be online ticket booking for IPL 2020?
A. It is speculated that if the BCCI agrees and if the UAE government gives its permission, the Emirates Cricket Board might explore the option of regulated crowd entry into the arena. IPL 2020 is set to start soon as the 13th edition of IPL will be played for 53 days from September 19th to November 10th. If granted permission to accommodate spectators, tickets will be available for booking on IPL’s partner companies that overlook the tickets selling.
Q. If at all any spectators are allowed within the stadium, will the IPL 2020 tickets be overpriced?
A. When IPL 2020 was temporarily cancelled, BCCI had declared a loss of 40 Billion Rupees or $530 million. Given the delay in the IPL season this year and the fact that the total number of matches may be brought down by 25-30%, it is very much possible that the ticket prices might hike. However, no official announcement of the same has been made yet.