Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s most profitable sporting league, generates more sponsorship dollars annually than Major League Baseball; despite its season being just 47 days long. Last year, in just its 11th season, IPL took in $1 billion in sponsorship revenue; 12% more ($892 million) than its baseball counterparts (founded in 1903). It’s not just sponsorship dollars that are ballooning in cricket though, newly signed broadcast deals, the rising value of title sponsorship rights and the increasing brand value of the individual teams has sent the league’s valuation soaring +26% (to $5.3 billion) over the last year. As former General Manager of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) Amrit Mather explained, “cricket has shown through the IPL that it defies normal economics. Investing in cricket is a no-brainer.”
Howie Long-Short: Rupert Murdoch is certainly on board with Mather’s assessment. Back in September ’17 Fox acquired (Facebook and Sony were also interested) global broadcast rights to the IPL; agreeing to a 5-year deal worth $2.5 billion. In April, subsidiary Star India bought the television and digital broadcast rights to Indian cricket for $944 million (5 years, through ‘23), a +51.2% increase over the terms of their expiring deal. On a per match basis, Fox is paying just slightly less for Indian cricket than for English Premier League rights and more than both the NBA and MLB command. It should be mentioned that Indian cricket and IPL rights are likely headed to Disney as part of their $71.3 billion acquisition of FOXA film and television assets.
Vivo, a Chinese phone manufacturer, is the title sponsor of the IPL. The company paid $340 million for the annual tournament to be known as the Vivo IPL until ’22, a +554% increase over the value of their previous deal. Vivo is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics Corporation, the largest smartphone seller in India and the 3rd largest in the world. BBK Electronics is a privately held entity, there are no ways to invest in the company.
Fan Marino: You know how they turned a game from the 1500s into a commercial success? They shortened the length of the matches! Games that once took days, have been streamlined (known as Twenty20) to 3 hour blocks (max). Baseball purists won’t be on board, but MLB should consider doing something similar; attendance is down 10% (lowest in 15 years), primetime TV ratings were down 6% in ’17 and the sport has an aging fan base (57 years old, up from 52 just 5 years ago). I propose the 27 rule (I just coined that name); 2 hours or 7 innings, whatever comes first.
Fun Fact: Did you know? The longest cricket match in history (England v. South Africa, 1939) spanned 10 days.
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