IPL 5 final: Brand cricket returns a hit this season
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IPL 2012 had cricket and controversies playing together, on the same pitch. First, two IPL players were caught on camera agreeing to spot-fix a few matches, then Kolkata Knight Riders' owner Shah Rukh Khan threw a fit and some abuses at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium, followed by molestation charges against Royal Challengers Bangalore player Luke Pomersbach. But something went unnoticed in the chaos of IPL-5: it was the year when the brand grew bigger and stronger, selling close to two million tickets for Rs 200 crore.
Between its debut in 2008 and its fifth edition in 2012, the Indian Premier League (IPL) and its franchisees have built a market of half-a-billion dollars on sponsorships alone, a performance that's remarkable, especially since it comes in a period marked with economic strife.
"If the sense of fulfillment could be calculated, it would run into several billions of dollars—far exceeding those earned by the organisers and franchisees in the past four years—at the end of the fifth season," says N Srinivasan, President, Board of Control for Cricket in India.
His is not the only voice heralding the IPL's coming of age. In fact, the chorus began building when Rajasthan Royals' Ajinkya Rahane scored an impressive 98 in the first week of the game and listless fans got up and took note. Indeed, they weren't left wanting for cracking action on the ground after that.
Business associates, on whose shoulders rests the burden of the survival of the game, are part of the cheering choir, alongside fans. "IPL has established itself as the single biggest bonanza for viewers as well as advertisers on television this year," says Divya Gupta, CEO, Dentsu Media, the agency that manages ad spends of advertisers such as DLF, Toyota, Canon, Unicharm and Panasonic. Arguing that advertisers initially stayed away from IPL because of the poor performance of the Indian team on earlier international tours, Sudha Natrajan, CEO, Lintas Initiative Media, says the apprehension soon wore off.
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