Mumbai Indians are the most successful IPL side with 3 titles to their name © BCCI
Mumbai Indians are the most successful IPL side with 3 titles to their name © BCCI

In February 2008, cricketers for the first time went under the hammer and were sold like cash cows. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was at its inception. Ten seasons later, IPL is expected to go bigger and richer. The US $2.55 billion broadcast deal that Star India bagged is set to make the league amongst the world’s richest sports competitions. The buck does not stop here. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla believes there is plenty more growth to come for the glitzy Twenty20 cricket league. ALSO READ: Q & A – How exactly did Star India win IPL media auction?

Earlier this week, Star India beat rival bids from Facebook, Sony and Airtel to land the IPL’s TV and digital rights over five years from 2018. During its inception, Sony had bagged the rights for US $1.2 billion for broadcast rights over 10 years in 2008. It has gone up 4 folds. IPL is now at par with English Premier League (EPL). The eight-week IPL’s 60 games are now valued at INR 544,916,667 per match, which is well over India’s international matches.

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Shukla said he was not surprised at the IPL’s new earning power.

“Every year IPL is growing in terms of reach, in terms of value and impact. In 10 years it has gone up manyfold and I hope in future also the enhancement will keep on happening,” Shukla told AFP. “Since the value of property has seen significant gains with each passing year so in future also it will keep on increasing.”

IPL’s success has inspired regions like Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, West Indies and now South Africa have come up with similar leagues. In fact, states in India too have cashed-in on this model and have come up with similar leagues like the recently concluded Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and the ongoing Karnataka Premier League (KPL) amongst others. It does not end here. It has also inspired other sports leagues in India like Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Super League (ISL), etc.

The model has helped associations and players swell up their bank accounts.

Indian captain Virat Kohli was the best-paid player at this year’s IPL, earning close to INR 15 crore with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), while the most expensive foreigner was England’s Ben Stokes, who bagged a whopping INR 14.5 crore from Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), which made him the most expensive foreign player to play this league ever.

Millionaires, and just 2 months

Usually footballers around the world, NFL and NBA players earn millions from their leagues but they are longer in duration. IPL being a 2-month league opens up doors for cricketers to earn from other leagues and international matches as well.

“It’s a game-changer, not only in Indian cricket but world cricket. The kind of money that’s generated in India through cricket is enormous,” former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin told AFP. “You never know what’s in store. If you compare it to EPL then an IPL player’s worth can be even more in coming years. The bar is raised and I am all for players making money.”

Like its goods, IPL has its share of critics as well. The spot-fixing controversy led to ban on several players and even popular franchises like Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) earned 2-year suspension for their officials being involved in corrupt practices.

Many critics believe that IPL has diluted the urge for cricketers to play for their country as they already earn big bucks from their respective franchises. A brainchild of Lalit Modi, who is now suspended, IPL has also strengthened ties between Bollywood and cricket. Superstars from the film industry own teams. Shahrukh Khan has in fact grown his Knight Riders franchise by also acquiring the Trinidad and Tobago team in West Indies and Cape Town team in South Africa.

Though IPL has given cricketers financial stability, representing the country remains the ultimate goal. Jharkhand and Delhi Daredevils left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem is a popular name but yet to earn a national cap.

“Money is no doubt a factor in IPL but the ultimate goal is to represent your country. Yes, IPL can act as a good launchpad for showcasing your talent,” the 28-year-old said.