By Anubhav Das:
About five years ago, IPL arrived as a perfect combination of cricket and entertainment that was funded and promoted to make the sport popular, and as it can now be seen that within a short span of less than half a decade it has literally took the sporting world by storm. Lalit Modi was hailed by many as a visionary who tried to change the way people looked at sport in the subcontinent. He was even projected as twentieth century Kerry Packer. Now that Mr. Modi leads a life in exile, and IPL going on in its 5th season, a question that pops up into my mind is that, is IPL losing its charm?
About 3 years back, IPL was in its full swing and the fever of commercial cricket-cum-entertainment had gripped people all over the nation, but since then a gradual fall has been observed in the involvement of ‘Junta’ in the IPL. IPL-1 saw rates rise to nearly Rs 10 lakh during the final stages. In IPL-4, broadcaster Multi-Screen Media (MSM) quoted around Rs 13 lakh per 10 seconds for the last four matches, but found few buyers at that price. Apparently, the spots ultimately went for around Rs 5 lakh. The reason: the average TRP (Television Rating Points) for IPL-4 had fallen to 3.9 from the 5.5 of the year before. The advertisers were right in holding out. The IPL4 final got a TRP of around 7, nearly half of the 12.9 rating the IPL3 final drew. This situation has even worsened in IPL-5, barring a few matches the ratings have gone down significantly this year.
With a rise in the investment of shareholders in this new format, this fall in the viewership has raised serious questions over the sustainability of this venture. The cumulative viewership of IPL also registered an all-time decline this season. According to TAM Sports, The cumulative number of people who tuned in to watch the first six games was 90.1 million, down from 101.77 million last year. Some people are blaming that the decision of letting too many teams in the league has contributed in making an IPL match a dÃ©jÃ vu experience to the viewer who is now bored of the “entertainment” he was promised.
Supporters say that, a larger picture should be considered over here, IPL does not propagate a commercial style of sport but is acting as an ambassador to a format of the game i.e. T20 and has been successful in doing so. People today are shifting their interests from One-day cricket to T20 cricket and IPL has played a significant role in this. Whatever it may be, it is worth mentioning here that the regular cricketing formats today are now more than a century old today but they are still are gaining viewership and commercial interest worldwide with every match that is being played between two nations. So maybe, there is actually something wrong with the way promoters and other masterminds are promoting the IPL.
Whatever the final figures, however, this season could be the one that stabilizes expectations, and makes IPL a more natural part of the cricket calendar, not the breathless tamasha of all-around greed that has begun to drag. And the tiger and its riders may finally be able to negotiate a wary, least-pain, settlement.