By Mikaela Viqueira
New Delhi, May 14 (EFE).- The suspension of the Indian Premier League (IPL) – India’s most popular cricket tournament – midway through the season after several players tested positive for Covid-19, despite a tight security bubble, could lead to multi-million dollar losses for the stakeholders.
Just the television rights for the cash-rich IPL is worth around $500 million.
Cricket accounts for about 90 percent of all revenue in the sports segment in India, with IPL being the largest generator of money in this ecosystem, Joy Bhattacharjya, a renowned sports analyst and commentator, explained to EFE.
However, now this sport could suffer million-dollar losses due to the pandemic, with two sectors severely affected – revenue from the broadcast of matches and sponsorship.
The losses could plunge further in case the T20 World Cup 2021, scheduled to be held in India in October, is moved out of the country if the pandemic situation remains critical.
According to data from statistics portal Statista, the average annual cost of broadcast rights of IPL matches is $510 million (between 2018-2022), a big jump from the $183 million during 2009-2017.
Broadcasting revenues depend largely on the number of people subscribed to the Star India media conglomerate – which holds the broadcasting rights up to 2022 – and the duration of the competition.
The 2021 season had 60 matches scheduled to be held between Apr.9 and May 31, but was called off midway after 29 matches, with the remaining ones postponed indefinitely.
This would signify a loss of around half of the expected revenues from the IPL, said Bhattacharjya.
The analyst estimated that half of the annual $700 million that the IPL generates from broadcasting rights and sponsorship could be lost because of the pandemic.
Empty stadiums would cause another $200 million in losses.
Morever, if the T20 World Cup is moved out of the country later this year, it would result in losses of another $500 million for Indian cricket.
Arun Dhumal, treasurer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) – the sport’s governing body in the country -, pegged the losses at 40 billion rupees (about $540 million), according to India Today magazine.
The value of the brand IPL, according to a report by Duff & Phelps consultancy, was about 458 billion rupees or $6.2 billion in 2020, shrinking 3.6 percent from the previous year due to the impact of the pandemic.
The brand value of Mumbai Indians team, the highest in the IPL for the last five years, fell by 5.9 percent to $100 million from 2019.
The country’s most famous brands fight to sponsor the IPL, which last year increased the screen quota by 23 percent compared to 2019 and recorded a whopping 400,000 million minutes of consumption, generating 112 hours of commercial space, according to a joint report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the consultancy Ernst & Young.
Cricket draws 87 percent of all sports revenue in India, just the IPL has 110 brands as sponsors, according to the report.
The $500 million losses that the IPL could face due to the pandemic, according to Bhattacharjya’s estimates, does not however impact the players’ contracts with their clubs or the national team and their earnings.
In the case of the most visible face of the sport, star batter Virat Kohli, he earns about $26 million annually and is among the 100 best paid sportsmen, according to Forbes magazine.