As the curtains came down on the 15th edition of the Indian Premier League on Sunday, the big question around the world’s biggest T20 cricket league is whether the declining viewership this year will impact the future of this tournament.
Experts believe the lacklustre performance by the superstars has contributed to the decline in viewership over the season. IPL 2022 was the season of multiple upsets, with the new teams, Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants, unexpectedly making it to the semifinals. On the other hand, none of the four favourites, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, made it to the finals.
CSK, which had lifted its fourth trophy in the last season, finished second last on points, leaving fans disappointed. CSK’s poor season was precipitated by losing their top strike bowler, Deepak Chahar, to an injury, and even a dramatic Jadeja to Dhoni captaincy switch could not save the team. Another top team, Mumbai Indians, came last in points and even KKR was only placed seventh. RCB was also unable to break its final stages curse and pick up the all-elusive winning trophy at last. Big names with huge fan following including Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma had a disappointing tournament.
Harish Bijoor, brand strategy specialist, said: “The premier cricketing league draws eyeballs through its big names and top teams. The lacklustre performance by the fan favourite teams has created an unusual season. Newly formed teams such as Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants do not have the reputation or the following to draw eyeballs as they advanced in the league, and viewers likely abandoned watching when their favourites were unable to perform.” Bijoor further believes that increasing teams from 8 to 10 in this edition further fragmented viewers, resulting in a further decline in numbers. “However, the growth and evolution of IPL have not been completed yet. The reputation of teams continues to build over time, and you could even see 8 teams with a strong following in the next few years,” Bijoor explained.
However, IPL’s lacklustre viewership numbers will not have an effect on its brand value, according to Ajimon Francis, Managing Director, Brand Finance India. “While IPL’s media rights valuation might see a hit, the upcoming media rights auction has become a battle of egos between top companies. Thus, they will be willing to pay the extra buck to acquire the coveted property. For IPL’s brand as a whole, we saw packed stadiums, consistent sponsorships and businesses minting money with merchandise and food sales. Thus brand valuation has only increased in this edition overall,” Francis noted.
While fans expressed disappointment and frustration that their favourites missed out on the trophy, the excitement for the first final in India after two editions in the UAE was palpable. The final, which took place in the largest stadium in the world, Narendra Modi Stadium, was jam-packed. As fans were finally able to witness the finals in person for the first time after Covid. The Hindu BusinessLine