IPL – Sports or Entertainment
Started in 2008, IPL added a new word to India’s vocabulary: Sport-ainment! Its success has been a catalyst for the T20 boom across the sporting world. But for India, it was the beginning of a journey towards being a sporting nation. In addition to economic growth, it generated employment directly and indirectly. In short, the IPL has proved to be a true game-changer, with there being distinct pre-and-post IPL eras of sports marketing.
The first step towards building a Sporting nation
Live entertainment fuelled by a growing middle-class populace, internet penetration and other positives of the IPL allowed the creation of other sporting leagues. People now look at sports as a yearlong activity with serious investments and marketing spends.
More importantly, an ecosystem was being built from the grassroots levels with sports such as football, kabaddi, tennis, hockey, badminton, wrestling also taking cues from IPL.
Post-IPL, India has seen 8 plus sports taking the league route with a city based franchisee structure.
The emergence of a new audience
In 2008, the IPL created mass hysteria thanks to its brilliant strategies which involved the appointment of regional brand ambassadors and promotions for each franchisee in the competitive spirit of ‘My City My Team’.
The tournament amassed a collective audience which cheered for their respective city/regions and also in the process managed to attract a new breed of fans: women! Fans started actually going to stadiums in anticipation of the tournament and the curiosity heightened with every year.
Today IPL brings festivities to the family audience every summer and it’s their appointment with games at the stadiums and at home.
Brand marketing calendars tweaked around IPL
IPL brought in an exponential growth in terms of revenue into cricket. The biggest gainers were the players and technical support staff, especially overseas.
Sponsor interest and investment were sustained thanks to the consistent value created by the tournament year on year. Also, given the fact that India is a hub for both cricket and entertainment, the value potential of IPL was too good for corporates to ignore. It was a win-win situation for rights holders, players, sponsors and fans.
One for the future
While it is foolhardy to think that the IPL will help aspiring players attain legendary status, the tournament has completely changed the way T20 cricket is perceived in India. Of course, professionalism is a major plus point and more possibilities have opened up for players who once struggled to get in the limelight.
Also, money is the big motivating factor as potential talents now have an excellent chance to earn almost double what they used to earlier. This has also proven to be a foolproof marketing calendar activity for brands year on year.
And lastly, we have to hope that the essence of the game (tests) remains while the IPL goes about in its work of revolutionising cricket and inspiring other sports in India.