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IPL And the Big Bucks - A Story for the Ages

A cultural extravaganza. A celebration that brings together the entire country. One of India’s favorite festivals. The Indian Premier League.. It has been the hallmark of Indian sports and a benchmark for other cricket leagues to follow. They ventured with the shortest format of the game which was just introduced and not absorbed by the audience yet, and have set an imprint for success in the following years.

Recently, news broke out about the media rights for the next cycle of IPL seasons (2023-27). Star India and Viacom18 had purchased the digital rights for Rs 48,390 crores, which makes the IPL the second highest valued league in the world after NFL. Few months before the 15th season, the sale of new franchises raised a lot of eyebrows again. Lucknow and Ahmedabad were sold for Rs 7100 crores and Rs 5166 crores respectively.

IPL has grown from strength to strength ever since it came into the fray - for the inaugural season approximately Rs 2913 crores were spent to acquire franchises in various cities. The auction, the India U-19 draft, the marquee signings, and the domestic signings all contributed to the hype of the league and got off on the right note as Brendon McCullum’s blitzkrieg of 158* off 73 balls set the tone for the rest of the league.

The Growth of IPL: a Story of Numbers

Let us take a moment to note how much change has taken place:

1. For the 2009 season of IPL, an ad spot of 10 seconds cost brands Rs 3.5 - 4 Lakhs, and in 2022, it cost 30 Lakhs, which is a 650% increase.

2. DLF spent around Rs 40 crores to acquire the title rights for the first 5 seasons, while Vivo paid Rs 440 crore per season in 2018 and 2021 respectively.

3. The prize money for the winning team in 2009 was Rs 4.5 crore, which has now increased to Rs 20 crore.

4. The viewership grew from 100 million in the first season to around 367 million for IPL 2021.

5. The media rights for the next cycle was sold at a price of Rs 48,370 crores, which is a 490% increase from their price at 2008, which was 8200 crores.

6. The advertising budget for 2020 was around Rs 2700 crores, which is a 125% increase from 1200 crores in 2015.

IPL is also cricket’s reply to big ticket leagues of various sports like Premier League, NFL, NBA, and MLB. Though these leagues have a history of their own with a loyal fan base and a steady cash flow, IPL has turned heads in becoming one amongst them in a rather short period.

Over the years, IPL has met with increased anticipation and hype from the fans and has not disappointed them, and in the process has seen its value grow to a magnanimous number. 290 crores were spent on acquiring players in the inaugural season, which rose to 551 crores in 2022.

The Impact of IPL on Brands

For brands, IPL was a dream come true. For them, it is the coming together of all demographics of their target audience in that 4 hours of non-stop live action, and they had to grab the opportunity. The post-match presentation was a great example of that. Over the years, it consisted of awards that specified moments of the game which generally go unnoticed in the context of the result, like “Karbonn Kamaal Catch”, “Dream11 Game Changer” and “Cred PowerPlayer”. Brands spend somewhere around Rs 130-180 crores for such packages spanning over a season.

The ad spots in the IPL have seen brands witness exponential growth in their performance and a substantial increase in their revenue. Cred, thanks to its groundbreaking ad campaign in the 2020 and the 2021 seasons saw an increase of 7x in its daily sign-ups. Voltas saw a 20% increase in its search volume and 39% in brand salience during its association with the IPL in 2018 and 2019. It also saw an increase of 47% in its sales in 2019. Crompton witnessed a 5x increase in Google searches and 43% increase in ad awareness in just 15 days after their association. They also witnessed a 48% increase in sales in Q2 of 2021.

From 2017-20 the number of advertising brands increased from 138 to 247. Brands like Swiggy and Zomato have capitalized on this space - number of daily orders on food-tech platforms jumped by 18.2 percent during 2017-20

Many brands have benefitted immensely from being associated with IPL, be it with increasing brand awareness or ROI, and many wait for this 2 month window to focus their marketing efforts for a profitable outcome.

IPL And Analytics

The scope of analytics in the IPL is limitless. Especially since the last few years, special focus has been placed on analytics not only for those 2 months but throughout the whole year. It is especially used for

  • Player Scouting,
  • Auction Strategy,
  • Marketing ROI,
  • Player Combinations,
  • Injury Backups,
  • Performance Analytics, and
  • Statistics

Teams hire sports analytics companies to scout and analyze player performances, and track KPIs of players to create an effective auction strategy, keeping in mind the team balance and match conditions. Kabaddi Adda helped CSK in their auction strategy for 2021, which helped them win their 4th title.

Data science now plays a huge role in helping teams craft their plans for the season. Criclytics - the fusion between cricket and big data analytics has been the talk of the town for the last few years, especially for the scope of sports analytics in the upcoming years. Data generation from each match has been given a lot more attention and is used productively to derive insights and determine performance metrics. Fans have something to count on to make decisions not based on intuition but on solid number crunching. Websites like Cricbuzz, ESPN Cricinfo, Cricket 365, Wisden Cricketer, etc are the go-to sites for the audience to know their favorite player’s numbers!

This aspect has forayed into the broadcast as well, which may or may not have a direct impact on the price shelled out on the media rights! Analytics and Artificial Intelligence has created many exciting prospects in cricket broadcast, like

Automated Data Collection - This is AI’s ability to directly collect all the information related to a specific delivery, convert it into the language which it must be broadcasted in and directly relays it to the network!

Broadcast and Advertisements - Viewer analytics and AI has created a mechanism to automatically show the camera angle with the most action without human intervention. The introduction of OTTs has created a personalized ad template according to the user based on their preference, which we all know, is textbook user analytics.

Wearable Technology - Recently in an ODI match, Shreyas Iyer, Team India Batter came out to bat wearing an arm patch. This was a biosensor that was used to track his vitals during his innings. GoPro helmet cameras, bat sensors help pinpoint player performances and generate data for performance analytics.

Data analytics companies not only help teams but also their fans. With fantasy cricket being on the rise, data analytics has helped lots of users make informed decisions and gain maximum ROI. They cross-reference different parameters to pinpoint the probability of a particular player’s success in specific conditions.

The concept of analytics boomed with the emergence of the IPL. The ICC tied up with HawkEye, a company that was initially responsible for the various camera angles that we see in the game, along with various aspects to improve the standards of umpiring, such as UltraEdge and Ball Tracker. The advent of such technology led to the generation of a lot of data on different aspects of the game - venue, conditions, matchups, form, consistency, records; you name it, you got it. Every cricket team has a dedicated team for analytics that help track a player’s performance to the most minute detail.


It is no surprise to see how well the IPL is doing. After all, India has always been a cricket-crazy nation which has fuelled the excitement even more. What makes IPL special is that it is not just about monetary investments anymore. International players take time off their schedules to participate in this league to gain experience and confidence by teaming up with other international superstars.

We see big steps taken in broadcast, with 360-degree cameras introduced during the playoffs of the 2021 season, along with the possibility of replays, analysis and 4D cameras, which can revolutionize the audience experience in the upcoming years.

For brands, it gives them a chance to create strong brand awareness. Irrespective of what their ROI targets are, IPL has helped many brands along their way to being successful, like Voltas, Dream11, Cred, Vodafone, and many more. So for those who follow the game, the numbers outside the field might not matter, but it sure does indicate that they are on the right track.

The scope of analytics only grows with the IPL, as it has been a platform for cricket enthusiasts to get to know numbers. It has helped teams and fans in various capacities and eventually contributes to the teams’ success on the field.

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