Indian Premier League, known as IPL, has become the most successful T20 Cricket league. It has become a household name with audiences of different ages and social strata. From the spectacular innings, on and off-field dramas, to the catchy and quirky advertisements featuring the favourite cricketers. IPL has become a whole package of entertainment. People wait the whole year to dress up in their jerseys and support their favourite teams. But how did IPL become so popular and why did it come into existence in the first place. To answer these questions, we need to understand the pre-IPL phase of cricket.
The pre-IPL cricket
England and many other nations had started experiencing lower turnout of audiences in longer duration matches like test matches and ODI. The younger generation had even started exploring other sports, leaving cricket behind. Even though the long-duration games were losing audiences, the International Cricket Council(ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) were both against the Twenty20 format. By this point, ICC had tried everything to enliven the game, but all its attempts were in vain. Meanwhile, the Indian Cricket League (ICL), a private cricket league operated between 2007 and 2009. Zee Entertainment Enterprises funded it. It had two seasons where four international teams World XI, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh played, and also had separate tournaments between nine domestic teams which were located in major Indian cities and also in Lahore and Dhaka. The matches were played in the Twenty20 format and were the first domestic Twenty20 league in India. But the ICL lacked the support of the BCCI and the International Cricket Council, which kept the ICL at a disadvantage. The T20 format captured the eyes of the public, it was everything that the current cash cow(ODI) was not.
The other factor that helped the case for IPL was India’s win in the World Cup 2007. There was a newfound liking and attraction towards cricket. BCCI was able to milk this opportunity by launching IPL before the final match of the World Cup 2007. BCCI put the Indian Cricket League, which had gained some momentum, out of business. This way BCCI was able to promote IPL by being in the right place at the right time.
How did IPL become so popular?
IPL became popular due to the following reasons –
IPL’s match timings were well aligned with the temporal demands of the public. Instead of investing days in a match, people would spend a couple of hours enjoying cricket. It helped with reviving the interest in the sport among people as well as helped BCCI by earning revenue.
The IPL season is scheduled in a way, where no other international matches take place due to climatic reasons. The international cricket tournaments usually happen from April to September in England and from October to March in Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. This leaves a window, where the IPL is scheduled. Therefore, all the famous cricket players are available to take part in this league. The matches are scheduled during the summer break for kids and college students. Weekday matches are scheduled around 8 pm so that people can plan their work and enjoy the matches with their family and friends. Weekend matches are scheduled at 4 pm and 8 pm giving a window for the audience to watch both the matches and also catch up with their chores.
c) Multiple factors of attraction
At this point, IPL’s revenue is more than the yearly revenue earned by International Cricket Council. It is hosted in the cricket-obsessed country and hence earns huge revenue from its vast fan base. On top of this, it also provides the audience with quality matches. It is also the perfect blend between cricket and Bollywood that the Indian public craves. Hence, everything adds to its popularity.
d) Why do the cricketers play in IPL?
International and domestic cricket always faced a disparity regarding money. The IPL offers these players a stronger third option. For a lot of players, the money from the IPL is more lucrative by a big margin than the international contracts.
The second factor is the duration of the Indian Premier League. The T20 format is less
taxing on the player’s body. Therefore, a lot of players can continue playing even after they retire from the international cricket matches. The availability of diverse players is one of the major reasons behind IPL being such a hit.
How does IPL do its marketing?
1. Multi-brand sponsors –
IPL has made its place in history by being the biggest marketing event. All the big companies invest their money in IPL through multiple teams. This has acted as a revolution in multi-brand marketing.
2. Influencer marketing –
IPL explores the potential of an influencer marketer. It has used the limelight of celebrities in a way, which adds to the popularity experienced by IPL. Also, the brands associated with the platform enjoy a greater reach to their target audience.
3. Social media marketing –
Social media handles like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube have influenced awareness of the event. Almost every team has its contest and fan pages. They have a very interactive relationship with their audiences.
4. Contests and games –
The strong marketing point of IPL was involving people from every age bracket. For
example, initiatives like DREAM11 or Fantasy Leagues helped form a stronger bond between the audience and the league. Other initiatives like contests and quizzes also acted as promotional activities. The most interesting form of marketing was selling slam cards. Children got obsessed with collecting the cards and it even helped in developing their interest in cricket
Why is IPL a marketing event for companies?
Millions of eyeballs are stuck to the screen that broadcasts, the matches. IPL is an easy one place event for companies, where they can advertise their brands. Therefore, the cricketers, their bats, and the cricket fields are drenched in advertisements. IPL has also become a go-to event for launching new products because of its digital reach.
The concept of IPL has filled the audience with love and passion for their home teams. The loyalty thus created has only seen a rise. A brand partnering with IPL hits all its target audiences from kids, teenagers, and adults to the aged on one single platform. A successful campaign in IPL can increase the brand’s awareness among the people. IPL is also a golden ticket for startups. Associating with IPL gives the startups the visibility that is enjoyed by the IPL. Many startups had benefited from this during the time of the pandemic.
The new advertisement medium i.e. digital marketing has brought in impeccable results for the brands by increasing the user growth, awareness, and market share of the
brands. With the help of the spirits of IPL, the consumers can get out of their mindset of not exploring new brands and trying new products.
How does IPL help India’s economy?
IPL’s success has brought profit for BCCI as well as the Indian Economy. It has helped the economy in the following ways –
1. Significant rise in GDP:
IPL has been contributing to the GDP of India. The mass scale branding and wide fan following worldwide have led to a constant rise in the GDP. According to KPMG’s survey, IPL yields USD 182 million during its 60-day tournament.
2. Increased Tourism:
Since IPL is loved by cricket fans from all over the world, it has increased travel revenue earned by India by 30%. There has been a massive increase in revenue earned from international tourism. According to the World Economic Forum, India ranks 11th in the Asia Pacific region as the most attractive tourist destination.
3. Generates Employment:
The Indian Premier League generates employment on a large scale. This helps in India’s economic development. The UN General Assembly for Peace and Development highlighted in its report that an economic value of $3.2 billion was created by IPL. Even the market size for sports equipment and gadgets has witnessed a rise to 40 billion Indian rupees.
4. Hotel & Restaurant Business:
During the IPL season, there is an increase in tourism. Therefore, the travel business, hotel business, and restaurants experience a huge increase in their business.
5. Increase in Tax Contribution:
BCCI was required to pay tax contributions as IPL has been termed as a commercial activity at its beginning. This has added to the tax revenue earned by the government significantly.
At the end of the day, the public only wants to feel relaxed and IPL does that job. The best thing about IPL is that it offers something to everyone. The addition of two new teams is a testament to the success of the tournament across the years. The league is now expanding; BCCI is even planning on launching women’s IPL. This would change the future of cricket as well as other sports.
IPL has even influenced the game of cricket. In five days test matches, defensive skills were preferable to withstand the various bowling styles. But with the T20 format, aggressive style batting is preferred to score runs in a short space of time.
Experts believe that, with the ongoing growth pattern, IPL should become a five-six-months affair instead of a two-three months affair. Though the circumstances are in favour of IPL, it has to work out a system to handle and discourage cases of match-fixing, bidding, after-party fiascos, and other reputation-damaging activities.