The BCCI created history when they secured a ₹48,390 crores IPL Media Rights deal for the next five years.

BCCI recently confirmed that it has sold media rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL) for a whopping Rs 48,390 crore for a five-year period, thus making it 2nd most valued sporting league in the world. While Disney Star has retained their Indian sub-continent TV rights for Rs 23,575 crore (Rs 57.5 crore/game), the digital rights have gone to Reliance-backed Viacom18 for Rs 20,500 crore, who also won the non-exclusive Package C by paying an additional Rs 2991 crore. Package D encompassing overseas TV and Digital Rights, was sold for Rs 1324 crore to Viacom18 and Times Internet.

With such a massive rise in valuation, it is only a matter of time before the IPL expands even further. IPL 2022 saw the number of matches increase from 60 to 74 following the inclusion of two new franchises – the Gujarat Titans (GT) and the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). As per reports, and BCCI has admitted about the plans, the idea is to make the league even bigger and stronger. Apparently, the 2027 edition, the last year of the upcoming five-year IPL cycle, will have 94 games. The obvious question is what kind of impact it will have on international cricket. The answer is massive.

Coming soon? A bigger IPL window 

Last year, following the IPL organizers’ decision to add two new teams for the 2022 season, former England captain Michael Atherton had expressed fears that Test cricket might suffer due to the expansion of the IPL. He articulated in his column for The Times, “There will be adverse knock-on effects. The calendar cannot contain the competing demands of international and franchise cricket as it now has a two-month window allotted for the IPL. India will want a longer window, and, who knows, maybe the owners will eventually want a second station carved out of the schedule.”

Atherton’s fears are likely to come true. Since the media rights have been sold for such whopping amounts, it is clear that there is plenty of interest for IPL in the market. And, although it may reignite the country vs franchise debate, the fact is that cricket is no longer a sport but a business and money will dictate the game’s future. Connoisseurs might not like it, and they have every right not to, but that’s how things stand, and it’s unlikely to change. In short, the brand value of IPL will determine how big a window the tournament gets. The likely repercussions will obviously be felt in international cricket, which basically translates to lesser Tests, ODIs, and even T20Is, for that matter. 

IPL in two halves?

With IPL likely to expand to 100 or more matches per season in the coming years, there is a genuine possibility of the T20 league being played across two halves of a season. International cricket will thus have to be squeezed in between the IPL. It sounds bizarre, but the BCCI has the might and the moolah to pull it off. We have already seen international cricketers preferring the IPL over playing for the country. In the near future, this could become a norm rather than an exception. The mega expansion of the IPL is going to be a reality a few years down the line. It is up to the ICC and other cricket boards to ensure that international cricket stays relevant amid the glitz and glamour of the Indian T20 league. 

International cricket and IPL need to coexist, and a middle ground must be reached. Reducing in T20s could be one way as, apart from IPL, there are innumerable franchise leagues across the globe. The bigger challenge will be when it comes to Tests and ODIs. The attention span of the viewer is already getting shorter. In the age of T20, how can the audiences stay hooked to the longer formats? That’s the big question for the ICC.

Leave a comment

Cancel reply