With little over a decade under its belt it is of recent vintage. However ever since its launch in April/May 2008, it has captured the imagination of all the cricket crazy populations not only in India but across the world. It’s the biggest cricket league in the world, perhaps the richest and has developed itself a brand pull which any brand finds it hard to ignore. It’s the IPL, the Indian Premier League, and the launch of its 12th edition earlier this month brought a round of welcome cheer in this Covid induced comatose in the populations across the world specially in India. Being held in UAE, without the voiceferous crowds, and other restrictions but welcomed nonetheless by all starved of competitive sport for the last seven months. Admit I like cricket and that India is a cricket crazy nation, but still its current edition launch came as a breadth of fresh hope for millions amidst the anxiousness witnessed over the last few months. Lure and the fable continues to get stronger and one wonders .. what makes it tick?
Brainchild of Mr Lalit Modi and modelled on the English Premier league (EPL), having cricket as its main content, it quickly dominated the imagination of fans in India and around the world. Two months of world class cricket in the 20/20 format, most of the international stars, club loyalty, money power, laced with entertainment made IPL the ‘happening’ league across the world and numero uno in India. It’s also the hottest TV property with ever increasing TVC ratings every year, TV being its largest contributor in terms of revenue besides tickets and now digital as well as other ancillary income. It’s a go to property for any brand launch, ask OPPO. Vodaphone, Havell’s, car brands and now digital brands like Byju’s as well as Dream 11. It has made money for BCCI, the club owners, the players and provided Indian cricket with a match ready bench strength incomparable in the world. Virtually every cricket playing nation now has a 20/20 league of its own but IPL still remains gold standard. 12 years of its existence has also seen some downsides like its tryst with match fixing, drug infused parties and betting but the brand has survived and come out stronger!
So what makes it tick… ? The answer lies in the content on offer. If one has witnessed the match on this Sunday between Rajasthan Royal’s and Kings Eleven Punjab and last night beween Mumbai and RCB Bangalore, one would know. Both were high scoring matches but with twists exemplifying the unwritten rule that cricket is by chance and it is never over till it is over. Sunday match saw a relatively new player arrive at the crease, nervous, overawed, and waste almost 20 deliveries in trying to get an impossible ask of almost a 100 runs in the 6 overs remaining. When we thought all was lost…. Rahul Tewatia, the player unleashes 5 sixes in one over scoring 53 in 30 balls in the impossible win! He set the TV audiences and the Twitter on fire and became an overnight star. Yesterday Mumbai came back from behind to score 89 runs in 30 deliveries to level the score, though they eventually lost. Where would you be if you were watching these matches ….. at the edge! Audiences across the world were too with pandemic receding to background recesses of the mind.
The brand IPL has shown resilience, a right offering at the right time. In today’s depressive induced thinking and insipid news and other TV content, this league is manna from heaven. Inspite of not having live viewing possible this year, its tv as well as digital audiences will far overshoot expectations. Already looking forward to the next match today and really does not matter who is playing as all teams are well balanced. Will just enjoy the spectacle!
Take care and stay safe.