The IPL is one of the most-attended cricket leagues in the world and was ranked sixth by average attendance among all sports leagues in 2014. The IPL was the first sporting event in the world to be broadcast live on YouTube. According to BCCI, the 2015 IPL season contributed ₹11.5 billion to the GDP of the Indian economy.
Broadcasting in IPL via SONY
The IPL’s broadcast rights were earlier given to Sony Pictures Networks and World Sport Group, under a ten-year contract valued at US$1.03 billion. In the 2016 season, Sony MAX, Sony SIX, and Sony ESPN served as the domestic broadcasters of the IPL
Acquiring the IPL, a major television property within India turned Sony MAX into the most-watched television channel during the tournament. Their annual advertising revenue surpassed ₹12 billion by 2016. In the 2016 season, Sony’s broadcasts achieved just over 1 billion impressions jumping to 1.25 billion in 2017.
Star and Disney+ Hotstar
In 2017, Star India acquired the global media rights to the IPL under a five-year contract beginning in 2018 at ₹163.475 billion making it the most expensive broadcast rights deal in the history of cricket. The IPL sold the rights in packages for domestic television, domestic digital, and international rights.
Star tried to increase viewership targeting core cricket audiences by broadcasting at least two hours of IPL-related programming daily from January until the start of the season including televised announcements of player retention selections and new team captains, player auction, pre- and post-auction reactions and analysis. This increased viewership six-fold to 46.5 million. They also focused on the behind-the-scenes coverage of the IPL’s teams and expert analysis post matches.
Star broadcasts IPL matches live online in India via its over-the-top video streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar. Matches are also available on Jio TV and Airtel TV apps on smartphones. International streaming viewership on Disney+ Hotstar saw records, exceeding 10 million concurrent viewers multiple times in 2019 especially with the 2019 final peaking at 18.6 million concurrent streaming viewers.
In 2017, Star India acquired the global media rights to the IPL under a five-year contract beginning in 2018 at ₹163.475 billion making it the most expensive broadcast rights deal in the history of cricket.
Previous Year Revenue from Viewership and 2021 Estimates
The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) earned Rs. 4000 crore revenue in IPL 2020 despite the pandemic and witnessed a total of 25 per cent increase in the viewership from the last year. It was a cash-rich league conducted in UAE due to COVID-19 protocol which for obvious reasons had no gate revenue. The majority of the revenue stream was from broadcast viewerships and the league was a successful one.
With the whole season shifting to broadcast revenue, TV ads were a major contributor to the revenue. Star India raised around Rs 2,600 crore in advertising revenue from TV and digital in 2020. According to BARC, last season saw a 23 percent growth in viewing minutes. It is estimated to increase further this year which will lead to a hike in ad rates ad advertisers know they have the viewership. IPL 2020 became the first sports tournament to cross the 400 billion viewing minutes as compared to 326 billion it had recorded in 2019.
With the country dealing with the post-covid normal, albeit a continual surge in COVID cases, IPL 2021 continues to be conducted in the new normal way. As states across the nation are going into lockdown and night curfews, going to the stadium to watch the match isn’t an option for the time being. The viewership and live streams is expected to increase given past statistics and will hopefully cross 400 billion viewing minutes once again and set a new record. The increase in viewership due to nationwide COVID protocol is clearly paving the path for an increase in revenue from broadcasting and advertising in the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League. The numbers are much less but fingers crossed as it’s a huge tournament, the BCCI did it successfully in Dubai and hopefully, we can do it this time as well.