SPORTS / CRICKET / IPL / GENERAL ELECTIONS 2024 / THE US
Jeff Bezos… Mark Zuckerberg… software gladiators who are at best soccer fans, if at all they find time. Soccer, and more than that, baseball is the next ‘Yankie” wet dream after Marilyn Monroe. So why do people like them want the Indian Premier League (IPL) annual cricket tourney to hit the Atlantic shores in 2024?
There is a clear reason: minting millions. And for good reason, and let me tell you why, just hang on…
The Stakes: Some Bullet Points
· The US’ biggest sporting business is the American Super Bowl baseball league.
· Billed at an annual viewership of just 99 million, and touted to be the biggest TV sport show, the US sport pales in front of the IPL’s annual viewership of 462 million, a mammoth figure
· In 2022, the value of advertising revenue of the Super Bowl was estimated at $500 million (39,935,000,000 INR).
· In 2020, just before COVID, the IPL’s brand value was ₹498,297,036,000 INR
It is not for nothing that US financial bellwethers such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zukerberg have reportedly shown keen personal interest in the IPL booty and bringing to the States.
According to business reports, by 2022, US companies have already invested $3.2 billion (₹ 266,117,414,400.00), and US investor Goliaths such as the Silver Lake Partners, TPG Capitals and KKR & Co (not Shahrukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders but an American investing company) are already stakeholders in the IPL.
Indian Biz Buzz
Since DLF’s conclusion as the title sponsor in 2012, the Indian Premier League has seen a change in title sponsors.
Until 2021 VIVO was IPL's title sponsor, but in 2022, the Tata Group replaced Chinese mobile manufacturer Vivo as the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Tata has had a Title Sponsorship agreement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for two years, which was worth INR 670 crore.
The UAE Angle
I am more or less sure that Bezos and Zuckerberg et al would like a share in this pie that huge.
There have been instances of the IPL being fully or partially shifted out of India due to the logistical complexities of national polls in a 1.42 billion country.
The first was in 2009, when the entire event was shifted to South Africa.
The Election Commission of India had said that the country did not have enough forces to provide security for the elections and also hold the tournament simultaneously.
In 2014, part of the season had to be played in Dubai for the same reason.
In 2019, however, the IPL, despite being an election-year, was fully played out in the country. Scuttlebutt is that the Modi government will try to hold the tourney in India, entirely, as a show of Indian democracy being sport enough.
But the real issue is the big bucks: The BCCI, despite being a ‘society’ as pre the definition of the Indian Societies Act (1961) is truly a business-running company.
Multiple business interests are stakeholders in a business that is being run by the Indian Minister of Home Affairs’ son Jay Shah. And the doors for Shah shall could be looking west for the shore across the Atlantic.
In 1995, for the first time, Lalit Modi, the founding mind behind the IPL, had proposed that the IPL be extended to become the Indian Cricket League in the US.
Lalit, the other Modi, had apparently been swayed by the huge investments on sport by US companies.
In the US, Modi had been impressed by the huge revenues of the American sports leagues. In 1995, he pitched his idea for a new 50-over tournament to BCCI. He even registered a name – Indian Cricket League Limited – for the proposed league. However, the BCCI did not take the proposal seriously.
Sports business expert, Thomas Abraham, editor of www.sportzpower.com does not think this American shift will happen. “IPL is an entirely domestic issue,” he told this correspondent.
There has been a suggestion (read IPL- 2024: BCCI keeps fingers crossed over hosting in India) that it could be beneficial for Indian cricketers to have the end-leg of IPL 2024 played in the US, so as to get adjusted to the climes where the ICC T-20 World Cup will be played, along with games in the Windies, in 2024.
That would perhaps help them get acclimatise our players to the conditions in the west, suggest some.
The decision, however, shall be purely a business one, what with the BCCI being more of a profit minting company than a ‘society’ for the benefit of a sport.
And if the likes of Bezos and Zuckerberg chip in with their mega bucks, it is possible that the US might just see its first ever cricketing extravaganza.
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