Now in its 15th year, the Indian Premier League (IPL) continues to increase its system value significantly, with the total value of the entire IPL system being valued at US$8.4 billion. This is a consequence of two important milestones: Firstly, media rights sold for a whopping US$6.2 billion (INR48,390 crores) and secondly, the auction of two new franchise teams raising close to INR12,500 crores (US$1.5 billion) has further raised the profile of the IPL.
With the sharp increase in digital viewership and streaming services during the pandemic, the IPL has built a valuable brand based on a strong connection to its key consumer audiences. There are signs of further progress to come for sports viewership, with the IPL part of the wider global transition to a new age of sporting event technology.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (brand value up 34% to US$68 million) is the strongest brand in the IPL franchise ecosystem. This is primarily due to a strong fanbase, extensive fan-engagement, good merchandise policies and a passionate following. Royal Challengers Bangalore are closely followed by Mumbai Indians (brand value up 4% to US$83 million) and Gujarat Titans (brand value US$47 million), who were the 3rd strongest brand in its debut year. The brand value of Gujarat Titans was boosted by its commendable on-field performance during IPL 2022, ultimately winning the trophy and earning respect from the cricketing world.
Perhaps the time has come for both franchise teams and sponsors to evaluate the Return on Investment (ROI) for their sponsorship deals. The IPL brand has matured significantly, and franchise teams have built formidable brands. Two areas that arguably need further review are sponsorship evaluation and the merchandising system.
Brand Value & Brand Strength Analysis
The globally followed and highly anticipated annual Twenty20 cricket tournament, Indian Premier League (IPL), has recorded a 77% increase in system value to US$8.4 billion.
With media rights sold for over INR 48,000 Crores (US$6.5 billion), the central pool of IPL revenues has increased more than 2.5 times for the 2023 to 2027 cycle. Digital media rights played an important role in this increased media rights action, leading to an improved brand performance amongst the target audience of millennials and digital savvy fans. From an IPL system value perspective, the rapid increase in revenue is not causing an equivalent increase in expenses, further fuelling the brand value growth.
The IPL also introduced 2 more franchise teams in 2022, raising an aggregate value of close to INR 12,000 Crores (US$1.4 billion).
IPL 2022 showed the world the power of its brand! From the big increase in the value of media rights, two new teams, new league structures and reduced restrictions in stadiums, it was a showcase of how competitive sporting events can be governed.
Ajimon Francis, Managing Director, Brand Finance India
Although the new sponsors from the crypto world have been curtailed, IPL franchises witnessed an influx of a range of tech brands running the gamut from e-commerce, to fintech, to e-sports, all trying to cash in on the event’s reach. These new and growing brands are seeking to build their own commercial brands in connection with the tremendous growth in the last 15 years of the IPL’s system growth.
Two new franchise teams, the Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants, made a grand debut garnering a much needed fan following – Gujarat Titans going on to later win the title in its IPL debut. The addition of two new franchises has added a new dimension to the IPL’s competitiveness.
Both the Delhi Capitals (5th) and Kolkata Knight Riders (2nd) continued to make steady progress in brand value growth. However, the franchises which really surged ahead in valuations were Royal Challengers Bangalore with 34% growth and Rajasthan Royals with an impressive 78% growth (also being runners up last season).
Over the years, the IPL brand has demonstrated long-term brand building. With its resilience during the pandemic and its strong decisions on title sponsorship with the Tata Group, new media rights increasing in value, maintaining strong relationships with other jurisdictions, the governing team has ticked all the right boxes. The expansion in franchises, permitting IPL Franchises to go global, squeezing the cricketing calendars, choosing high throughput stadiums the brand is going from strength to strength.
Savio D’Souza, Senior Director, Brand Finance
IPL’s immense system value growth over past 15 years
For the purposes of the brand valuation, IPL has been treated as a single commercial entity, encompassing business values of all its parts. The income of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the franchises was aggregated. All cross-charged income and expenditure has been ignored.
Brand Finance has calculated the system value of the IPL and each of its teams annually since 2009. After a determined 2022 season, the value of the IPL System grew 77% in 2022 to US$8.4 billion. This can be attributed to the stakeholders’ renewed confidence in the IPL governing council’s ability to control the variables from geopolitics to global cricketing bodies and ensure complete IPL tournaments ensuring all stakeholders get their returns, all driving up the interest and participation in the tournament. It is key to note that the IPL brand has witnessed spectacular growth of 240% since its launch in 2009.
The Mega Auction, Expanded team base to 10 & Ukraine conflict
IPL stuck to its promises of adding two more franchises to the 8-team tournament. The mega auction also changed the format of tournament into a league system. Increased number of matches to 74 added more space for advertisers' participation. The Ukraine conflict and the global geopolitics had its role to play in the IPL 2022 season resulting in a drop in advertisers' participation by approximately 20%. The franchise teams will not be fretting too much, however, as the team sponsors and merchandising revenues remain steady. The additional revenue coming from 2023 onwards from the central pool into their kitty has also given a boost to the team brand values.
Brand Strength Index
In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.
According to these criteria, RCB (brand value US$68 million) is IPL’s strongest brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 70.6 out of 100 and a corresponding AA brand strength rating. Closely following RCB is the formidable Mumbai Indians brand at 70.5 with an AA brand strength rating. The Brand Strength showcases the ability of brands to draw fanbase, team sponsors, fan engagement, stadium capacity and a strong brand building program.
The teams that have shown remarkable Brand Strength in 2022 are Gujarat Titans at No.3 – in its very first year, Rajasthan Royals at No.4 and Delhi Capitals finishing off the Top 5 table.
ROI of Sports Sponsorships
In its 15th year, IPL Franchises having achieved successful brand building and formidable brand strength, now need to introspect on sponsorship valuation and return on investment (ROI). Going forward the team owners will seek key answers about the following:
1) Are existing sponsors seeing a good return on investment?
2) Sponsorship opportunity analysis and comparable deal benchmarking
3) Sponsorship tracking to drive strategy and future relationships with the rights holder, and the activations used to maximise their partnership effectiveness.
Brand Finance with its engagement with La Liga, F1, EPL and NFL provides key answers to how the Brand Strength of Teams can be a win-win situation for both the sponsor as well as for the team owners – strengthening brand strength consistently.