IPL TV audience up 28 per cent this year
The 2020 edition of cricket’s prestigious Indian Premier League achieved a 28 per cent increase in television viewing figures compared to the 2019 numbers.
According to Indian media, after 50 games out of 60, the tournament had already surpassed the total number of minutes watched on TV in the 2019 tournament - 326 billion.
It has also been reported that TV coverage of the 2020 IPL secured the most sponsorship and advertising in the competition’s history with broadcaster Star India, which holds rights to the IPL in a five-year deal running to 2022, bringing in 18 sponsors and a total of close to 110 advertisers.
This year’s edition, which concluded on 10 November, took place entirely in the United Arab Emirates, and without fans, the result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is still sweeping through India.
Viewing figures were boosted by more fans being at home to watch games.
Brijesh Patel, the IPL’s chairman, said: “The IPL has always endeavoured to provide a world-class sports event for its fans.”
In early October, it was revealed that the first week of the IPL - from 19 to 25 September - achieved a record television cumulative reach figure of 269 million in India.
Star had previously predicted a huge rise in viewership for this year’s tournament, with a TV audience of up to 550 million in India alone, across the 20 channels it was showing matches on.
Meanwhile, the Times of India newspaper has reported that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is preparing to launch a tender for at least one new IPL franchise, which would be the league’s ninth team, after the Hindu religious Diwali festival concludes early next week.
However, there is said to be a lack of consensus amongst the BCCI's senior executives about whether one or two new franchises should be brought on board in 2021, or whether one should join the league then, and one should join in 2022.
A source told ToI: “The tender is most likely to come after Diwali, once a decision is taken in this regard. Regardless of whether it’s one franchise or two, if new teams come in then a mega auction cannot be avoided.”
The 2021 IPL is scheduled for its usual annual window of March through May, meaning that any new franchise faces a race against time to prepare for the event.
Another potential issue is that the total number of matches in the tournament will go up to 76 with the addition of one new team, and to 90 with the addition of two; the current window for the tournament is too short to ensure all those matches can take place with as few double-headers as possible.
ToI has reported that the Adani Group, the Tata Group, and the RPG-Sanjiv Goenka Group are three corporations provisionally interested in owning a new IPL franchise.
The IPL has had 10 teams before, in 2011, and nine in both 2012 and 2013.
When the Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings franchises were suspended from the league in 2016 and 2017, the Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions took their places only to drop out when former teams returned in 2018.