Cricket a Gentleman’s Game the most popular sport in India is becoming more about money rather than a sport. So how did a gentleman’s game become a billion-dollar industry? The answer is commercialization. Commercialization is what led cricket to be telecasted on television and then being promoted. Live broadcasts in turned helped cricket reach more audiences than ever before.
In India, cricket’s popularity increased with the Indian Cricket Team winning the 1983 World Cup. Then came the Sachin Tendulkar Era which took the popularity of the sport to a new level. Then in 2008, the Indian Premier League was launched which today is the most profitable cricket league in the world.
Commercialization may seem like a modern trend, but the first time cricket was introduced to business was in 1977 when Kerry Packer, an Australian business tycoon started World Series Cricket. Packer introduced floodlights, colored clothes, day-night Matches, and especially the white ball all of which are widely used in modern cricket, even though at the time they were considered blasphemous.
Many of the top cricketers from Australia, England, West Indies signed up with Packer in secrecy to play in the World Series Cricket. Even though the event had no venues to play on, there was no proper structure and was unknown to the world, Packer had 24 cricketers committed to the event. Later a renowned player said that it was nothing personal but a way to earn a more secure source of pay.
There was a time when Test Cricket was considered as the pinnacle of cricket, but all that changed in the 21st century with more emphasis on limited-overs cricket especially the T20 leagues all around the world. The most lucrative cricket league in the world is no doubt the Indian Premier League (IPL) which was launched in 2008 and has been going strong in its 14th edition in 2021.
In the Indian Premier League, the players are auctioned to the franchises in crores and sometimes it’s enough for a player to lead out his whole life comfortably. The current IPL season will see the Champions winning 10 crore rupees, the runners-up winning 6.25 crore rupees, while the other two teams qualifying for the playoffs will earn 4.375 crores each. The broadcasting rights of the IPL are currently with Star Sports Network. Star India won the global media rights for IPL from 2018-2022 for a whopping 16,347.5 crore rupees. Not only Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the other State Cricket Board benefit from the IPL but is also a means for franchisees to conduct their businesses. More than 70% of the IPL franchise’s revenue comes from advertising.
The IPL franchise is a brand. These are brands that aim to improve their visibility and their brand equity. To explain the situation, the IPL franchise goes as far as to buy specific cricketers to further the goals of the brand, rather than playing cricket.
A lot of cricket leagues have been introduced all around the world with the success of IPL. Some of the examples are Big Bash League, Caribbean Premier League, Pakistan Super League, Super Smash(New Zealand), Lanka Premier League, Mzansi Super League(South Africa) & the most recently introduced the 100 which was introduced by England and Wales Cricket Board(ECB).
All in all, the flagship cricket leagues all over the world are more about business rather than the game which was once called The Gentleman’s Game.