Why IPL Fails to Excite This Year

Official IPL Logo

IPL is back. The 9th season of the extravaganza of “Crick-entertainment” is going to start from today in Mumbai. Is it going to be bigger than its previous editions? I dont think so. Here is my analysis.

Like any other product in the market, IPL will also go through a product lifecycle.It was launched in 2008, just a year later after India’s glorious victory in the first T20 World Cup. It was a perfect launchpad for IPL. In a Cricket crazy nation the World Cup trophy had returned after 20 years. Heroes were reborn. This was the time when transition from heroes of recent past to heroes of future was happening. Ganguly, Yuvraj, Sachin, Dhoni, Dravid, Sehwag were some of the Icon players who lead their respective teams in the first season of IPL. A lot of new young talent also came out of the tournament which in later years helped Team India. However the irony of first season was Shane Warne, who was the only Non Indian Captain that eventually lifted the IPL trophy.

Years 2009–2012 was the Golden period of Growth for IPL. It multiplied its brand value. Couple of more teams like Pune and Kerala joined the bandwagon. It became a 10 Team Tournament in 2010. There were also some lows for IPL like Kerala team was terminated a year later in 2011. Deccan Chargers also changed its identity to Sun-risers Hyderabad due to new ownership in 2012. A lot of changes were happening in Tournament Structure, Participant Teams and Owners of the teams. The match fixing scandal were exposed by some of the News Channels during this time.This was the challenging time for IPL. This was the time when the brand IPL was struggling to maintain its market value. And then 2011 happened. Team India, lead by MSD won the World Cup once again for India and once again the Cricket Crazy Nation in excitement, surrendered to the 2 months of IPL craziness.

This year it is 9th season of IPL and it will be the Biggest Test for IPL T20 since its inception in 2008. Following are some of the reasons which I think can be erosive to Brand Value of IPL this year:

  1. Overdose of Cricket: The T20 WC is just over. Although India played very well they failed to win the WC. This year IPL is not going to get that push of excitement from fans it would have got ,had India won WC . Also I feel there will be an overdose of T20 cricket as IPL is starting almost in couple of weeks of WC getting over.
  2. Ban on Chennai and Rajasthan: Two of the most exciting teams which rarely changed their culture over the time. CSK had a core of strong players that remained together since the inception of IPL. Similarly, RR had the culture of giving new talented young players every IPL season. Also these two teams had some of the most fanatic fans in India. Unfortunately these teams were involved in Match Fixing Scandal and were banned for 2 years which I think is very appropriate. Their players are now divided into new teams Pune and Gujrat that have replaced them this season. There will not be Whistle Phodu anthem this time.
  3. Dilemma for Fans: IPL Fans are still debating about whether to take this tournament as a serious cricket tournament or just an after office TV entertainment. This is one reason why I think IPL can never attain the brand level of English Premier League football. The football fans in England are very crazy about the game. In England,the loyalty of players to particular clubs amplifies the attachment of the fans towards their club teams. Steven Gerrard, former Liverpool player and captain never left the club even after he got so many offers from other clubs. He retired without winning an EPL medal, but still he was the reason that brand Liverpool succeeded over the last 2 decades. The fans were attached to the player as much as to the Club. In IPL, will the CSK fans say same thing about MSD, who is playing for Pune this time?
  4. Money League: There is a lot of money involved in IPL. And when there is lot of money involved anywhere in India, Corruption takes place. Everyone is aware that the BCCI is a private entity and it does not depend on Govt of India for its finances. That means it does not let GoI to interfere into its financial activities.

Let us see some of the people who were involved or connected with BCCI in recent times and where they are today:

1)Lalit Modi: He was instrumental to the success of IPL. During his stint with BCCI from 2005–2008, he was heavily involved in commercial side and helped the BCCI revenues increased to seven fold to USD 1 Billion. Today he is a wanted fugitive and there is a possibility that he is never going to be back in India.

2) Subrata Roy: Founder and Chairman of Sahara. His company Sahara Sponsored Team India for long. He also owned Pune Franchise in IPL from 2010. Today he is in jail since past 2 years for fraud and has to pay Rs 100 Billions as bail and there is a possibility that he is never going to be out of the jail.

3) Vijay Mallya: The King of Good Times. Everyone knows him for his lavish lifestyle. His company owned Bangalore Franchise in IPL. His company was also one of the sponsors of IPL. Today he has declared himself Bankrupt and has fled the country and there is a possibility that he is never going to be back in India.

4) N Srinivasan: MD of India Cements. He was former President of BCCI and former Chairman of ICC. He is accused of over Rs 3000 Crore corruption in cement industry. Today he is facing allegations and charges and he is busy court cases.

5) Gurunath Mayappan and Raj Kundra: Former owners of CSK and RR respectively. Today both of them are charged guilty for their involvement in match fixing in IPL. Both of them are banned from game of cricket for a lifetime.

Unfortunately the one common thing between all these corrupt people is IPL. Day by day, the Indian Junta is becoming aware of the kind of money involved in the game of Cricket. Be it Betting, Match Fixing or Amitabh Bacchan singing National Anthem. There is a recent debate going on whether IPL should be played in drought hit states like Maharashtra. The court passed its judgement and asked BCCI to introspect on importance of people over game and money. But what happened? BCCI being at its pompous best will be going ahead with the opening ceremony and the first match in Mumbai.

There will be a lot of such issues that will be on the mind of Indian consumer when he will gear up for the opening ceremony of IPL today. There must he a reason why Pepsi, a company who is the Master in Brand Management has taken back its Title sponsorship of IPL this season and Vivo is the new title sponsor. Whatever you can think, it is difficult to understand the Indian market and therefore it is only time will tell if any of the points mentioned above is going to have any effect on this season’s brand value and revenue of IPL this season.