There is a reason why legendary Indian vocalist Lata Mangeskar is awarded two premium tickets each time the national cricket team plays in Indian stadiums. In 1983, Kapil Dev and his team had won the cricket world cup for India. The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) had planned to felicitate the players with gold chains. But after the announcement and initial planning, the Indian cricket organisers realised they were short of funds required for their ambitious felicitation plans. Lata Mangeskar came to their rescue. She agreed to perform in two musical concerts and the financial proceeds were used to procure the gold chains. 25 years later, the BCCI honoured the 1983 cricket team with `25 lakhs awarded to each player.
One often wonders how Indian cricket, with its modest financial means evolved to its present avatar. Biswarup Dey, Treasurer, Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) informed BE, “The transition of Indian cricket started in 1993 when Jagmohan Dalmiya sold the television rights of CAB’s Diamond Jubilee Hero Cup to TWI for the first time in the country’s history. The term television right has been used in India since then.” The decision was highly contested by the state-owned channel, Doordarshan, which had monopoly of telecasting the matches till then. They moved the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of CAB. This model was soon followed by the BCCI and other regional boards. Sponsorship and investment started pouring in.
Indian cricket has moved on since then. It is more than a billion dollar industry. The Indian sports sector is dominated by cricket and the sport enjoys the lion’s share of sponsorships. The interest has only increased with the Indian Premiere League (IPL). This sporting extravaganza has transformed cricket and has linked it to the entertainment sector. Indian masses love the heady cocktail of entertainment and sports. IPL has also opened the floodgates of investment and the generated funds are being used to improve infrastructure and facilties for cricket.
Dey informed BE, “The money generated by IPL is flowing to the BCCI and from there it is flowing back to regional organisations. This year, the CAB was granted a yearly amount of `32 crore by the BCCI. Such sums were unheard in the pre-IPL era.” Apart from the yearly allowance, the CAB gets `30 lakh for each of the matches organised in the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Dey said, “It has been scaled up to 60 lakh per match from this year onward.”
The financial model of IPL is straightforward. Its television rights are solely enjoyed by th BCCI. In 2009, Sony had bought the broadcasting rights for $1.6 billion for the following nine editions. Presently, it is pitching to retain the broadcasting rights. The BCCI recorded a profit of `526 crore in 2013-14. According to its annual report, the BCCI earned a whopping `1,194 crore from the 2013 edition of IPL as against `892 crore earned in 2012.
The franchises like Kolkata Knight Riders and the rest generate finances by ticket sales and from stadium branding. On an average, a full house would generate ` 3 to 5 crore from sale of tickets. In stadium branding also generates about ` 1 crore per match. Inside sources from IPL informed BE that most of the IPL franchises are in profit making mode and the Kolkata Knight Riders are among the leaders.
Cricket organisers like Biswarup Dey are happy as to how things have unfolded. IPL has commercialized the game but has also brought in large sponsorships. Apart from its positive financial implications, it has positively popularized the shorter version of the game (T-20 matches) and has given immense exposure to domestic players.
The money generated by the IPL is being used to build infrastructure. The BCCI is now building a number of cricket stadiums at Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Goa, Visakhapatnam, and Raipur. Dey said that after the IPL, spending on domestic cricket has greatly increased. He added, “State teams are travelling by airplane these days, which was earlier unheard of.” The enhanced finances of the BCCI are also allowing for greater spending in women’s cricket and the results are starting to show. The Indian Women’s Cricket team is now a formidable force in world cricket.
The funds generated by the IPL are also being used to enhance ground level competitions. The CAB presently organizes numerous tournaments. There are five tournaments for the first division and similarly five for the second division. Apart from these, there are numerous tournaments for school and college students. An organizer, who is integrally associated with these tournaments, informed BE, “The money flowing in to the talent scouting tournaments have considerably increased after IPL. The prize money has also increased, which is a great incentive for young players.”
The IPL has fundamentally altered Indian cricket- not just its presentation or form but also its financial strength.