IPL 5: Less than maximum

I should preface this article by stating that I have never enjoyed Twenty20 cricket. This dislike for Twenty20 cricket has morphed into an equally strong dislike of the IPL. So from my perspective, it is not necessarily disappointing to hear that the IPL is losing sponsors and supporters.

Title sponsor of the IPL, Indian real estate company DLF, are strongly tipped to end their association with the competition when their current contract expires this year. For those who enjoy hearing Danny Morrison describing another “DLF Maximum” (IPL code for a shot which clears the boundary rope); this news will come as something of a disappointment. However, and I’m just taking a wild guess, this news will be even more disappointing for IPL chief Rajiv Shukla and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Certainly, DLF have their troubles. The company was recently the subject of a report released by Veritas Investment Research, which found that DLF was grossly over-valued by the stock market and in significant debt. Since the report was released in March of 2012, the DLF share price has dropped, while the company is scrambling to sell assets and reduce their debt, which is estimated to be Rs 25,000 crore (250 billion rupees). According to the Google currency converter, this roughly translates as AUD$4.6 billion.

While DLF are on the rocks, the IPL has lost a significant number of sponsors, while disputes with existing sponsors have unsettled the competition. Canon has reduced their sponsorship in 2012 to 20% of the money contributed in 2011, while LG and Godrej opted out of the 2012 competition. Furthermore, speculation has arisen in India that current sponsors Hero Moto Corp, Citi, Volkswagen, Vodafone and Karbonn Mobile could walk away from the competition.

The decline in sponsorship has been linked to the recent poor performance of the Indian team, while the changeability of the IPL teams has confused supporters, who would prefer to see their hometown stars playing for their local team. Perhaps the numbers people in charge of the Big Bash League should be taking note. Furthermore, sponsors feel that if Virat Kohli endorses one product on a personal level, then another for his IPL team, little value is to be gained from paying the expensive fees commanded by the IPL.

The IPL is still seen as an important vehicle through which sponsors can gain access to the Indian market, which is reflected in the fact that sponsorship fees are almost double that charged for the ICC World Cup. However with the decline in sponsors particularly acute in 2012, the indication is that companies are opting to spend their money elsewhere. Speaking to the Times of India recently, Alok Bharadwaj, senior VP at Canon India, noted that “Advertisers are starting to look at other options. Each year the rates have gone up by 15-20% and the returns are not directly proportionate.”

While sponsor fees for the IPL have continued to increase, the television ratings have declined considerably in the past couple of years. According to statistics released by Indian media analysts TAM Sports, television rating points, calculated using viewer numbers and time spent by viewers watching a program, have dropped from an average of 5.72 in 2010, to 3.76 for the first 6 matches of 2012. This could indicate the waning interest from those initially attracted to the IPL who aren’t all that interested in cricket. Perhaps this can just be attributed to cricket-fatigue, as supporters struggle to cope with a jam-packed international cricket calendar. Either way, for a competition which was to supposedly rejuvenate the sport, while drawing in new fans, the figures will be concerning.

Predictably, key figures within the IPL such as Rajiv Shukla are maintaining a positive front. According to Shukla, by the team IPL 5 ends “all doubts will be put to rest”. On the available evidence, doubts will only continue to grow.


  1. Phantom says

    What was tha Monkey’s song from the early seventies?

    ‘Your not the only cuddly toy, to be enjoyed, by any boy. Your not the only choota train to be left out in the rain the day after Santa came’.

  2. It ended up being one of the most succesful IPL season’s.

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