New Delhi - The Indian Premier League is expecting even
higher returns in the years ahead after striking a bumper $2.55 billion
broadcast deal to become one of the world's richest sports competitions.
IPL chairperson Rajeev Shukla believes there is plenty more
growth to come for the glitzy Twenty20 cricket league, whose heady success
comes despite its history of corruption scandals.
This week Rupert Murdoch's Star India beat rival bids from
Facebook, Sony and India's Airtel to land the IPL's TV and digital rights over
five years from 2018.
The deal, a four-fold increase after Sony paid $1.2 billion
for broadcast rights over 10 years in 2008, puts the IPL on a similar level to
football's English Premier League, a bellwether for global sports marketing.
The eight-week IPL's 60 games are now valued at roughly $8.5
million each, not far off the estimated $9.6 million per Premier League match -
and well over the $6.2 million price tag attached to home internationals in
Shukla said he wasn't surprised at the IPL's new earning
power, which is tipped to have a wide-ranging impact on cricket, much as Kerry
Packer's renegade World Series Cricket of the 1970s ushered in a new era for
"Every year IPL is growing in terms of reach, in terms
of value and impact. In 10 years it has gone up manyfold and I hope in future
also the enhancement will keep on happening," Shukla said.
"Since the value of property has seen significant gains
with each passing year so in future also it will keep on increasing," he
The IPL has spawned copycat leagues in Australia, Pakistan
and elsewhere, and has already swelled the bank accounts of scores of players,
making domestic T20 a lucrative alternative to the international game.
India captain Virat Kohli was the best-paid player at this
year's IPL, earning $2.26 million with Royal Challengers Bangalore, while the
most expensive foreigner was England's Ben Stokes on $2.16 million.
Earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a week - albeit for
only two months - is usually the preserve of footballers and NBA players, but
IPL cricketers can expect a step-change in their wages next year.
"It's a game-changer, not only in Indian cricket but
world cricket. The kind of money that's generated in India through cricket is
enormous," former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin said.
"You never know what's in store. If you compare it to
EPL then an IPL player's worth can be even more in coming years. The bar is
raised and I am all for players making money," he added.
Many critics are concerned the growing sums on offer will
have a negative impact on international cricket, as players prioritise earning
money over representing their countries.
But Delhi Daredevils spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, as yet uncapped
by India, said international cricket remained the pinnacle for players.
"Money is no doubt a factor in IPL but the ultimate
goal is to represent your country. Yes, IPL can act as a good launchpad for
showcasing your talent," the 28-year-old said.
The IPL, which is broadcast around the world, is hugely
popular for its mix of sport and showbiz, with a number of teams fronted by
It is the brainchild of Indian cricket administrator Lalit
Modi, who is now in Britain and refusing to return to his home country to face
The IPL was also hit by a spot-fixing scandal in 2013 which
led to the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals being suspended for two
seasons in 2015.
But the IPL has thrived regardless, and has inspired a range
of other franchise-based leagues in India in sports as diverse as boxing, badminton,
poker and kabaddi.