Will Lucknow and Ahmedabad change the fate of the failed 10-team IPL model?

Will Lucknow and Ahmedabad change the fate of the failed 10-team IPL model?

The expansion model was tried in 2011 but the tournament returned to its successful 8-team model in the 2013 season.

IPL Auction 2021
IPL Trophy (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

IPL, the most celebrated and loved sports league in India, has tasted success in every possible manner by overcoming all the hurdles that have come the tournament’s way, save for one! The expansion model was tried in 2011. Although IPL started in 2008 with eight franchises being part of the league, the format’s success and increasing revenues prompted BCCI to expand by adding two more franchises. The intention to add the additional teams was to make the league more competitive and entertaining.

To take the initiative forward, BCCI had introduced Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) and Pune Warriors India (PWI) as the new franchises in the 2011 season, turning it into a 10-team league. This experiment did not work as KTK exited after the 2011 season, and PWI disappeared from the league after the 2012 season.

The tournament returned to its successful 8-team model in the 2013 season. Both the teams failed in their performance, as well as in creating a loyal fan base. The main reason for this failure is the inefficiency of the franchise owners in running their respective teams.

Although the BCCI had successfully overcome all the logistical challenges associated with the league during these two seasons, they never replicated this 10-team model again. With the increasing viewership rates worldwide and the demand to add new teams to the league to bring an overall fresh appeal to the IPL, BCCI has decided to try the already failed “10-team model” again in the coming 15th edition of IPL (2022).

The franchise bidding process, which was conducted on 25th October 2021, has amazed the world with the humongous valuations as investors and companies showed interest in showering money to get the two new franchises under their belt. In the end, RSPG Ventures Ltd. succeeded in getting the Lucknow franchise for ₹ 7090 crores and Irelia Company Pte Ltd. (CVC Capital partners) tasted success by winning the bid for Ahmedabad at ₹ 5625 crores.

Now the question is, whether the two new franchises have the potential to compete with the already-set eight franchises? These franchises have already established their fan bases by penetrating deeply into their respective home regions and remaining parts of the country.

The study to identify the top two franchises for the following year’s IPL focuses on understanding the region’s feasibility and infrastructure facilities, the scope for market penetration, business opportunities in the area, the city/state’s economic strength, and consumer spending behaviour.

The study consisted of 90 respondents spread well across different states of India and diversified into different backgrounds, including sports, economics, business, and education. We evaluated the “10-team model’s” chances of success. We found that the viewership rates on television and streaming platforms like “Disney + Hotstar” will hit the sky in the upcoming seasons, and expansion plans would act as a catalyst to speeding up this process.

More than 76% of the survey respondents said they would subscribe to streaming platforms exclusively to watch IPL. More than 41% of respondents are willing to watch matches in stadiums, and more than 51% are ready to spend money on the merchandise of their favourite franchises. The fan’s and followers’ viewership trends and spending behaviour send a strong signal of a successful new era of IPL. All these are positive signs for the BCCI to implement the 10-team model in the 15th edition.

The research has given us reliable findings on potential cities to act as the home base for the new IPL teams. These insights revealed that home representation is not the most influential factor for an IPL fan choosing their favourite team. It influences participants because of an iconic player in a particular team and its performance over the years. It suggests that the generation of a loyal fan base for an IPL team depends more on the deeds of the team and the players’ brand images rather than on geographic belongingness.

This revelation has made us focus more on the growth and economics associated with the franchises instead of factors linked to franchise bidding; the franchise majorly tackles all these during the market penetration stages.

A chance is given to participants to choose cities/states as the home for the new IPL teams in the research. They selected Lucknow from the northern region, Ahmedabad from the western, Indore from the central, and Kerala from the country’s southern parts.

Motera Cricket Stadium
Ahmedabad has always had high economic growth, goodwill, large population, logistics, and technical feasibility. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Respondents stated multiple factors when choosing their favourite city for the next franchise. They preferred Indore as the 4th best option for its decent infrastructure and economic growth in the state. Kerala’s domestic circuit and overall popularity of cricket are improving. In addition to it, Kerala had good viewership trends for international matches. However, this support did not translate into success for Kochi Tuskers Kerala, which has been reflected in the survey as the respondents chose Kerala as their third favourite franchise.

Since the beginning, Lucknow edged Kerala on various factors like cricket dominance, economic growth, and a solid domestic circuit. Lucknow has good infrastructure with all the facilities for the cricketers, spectators, media, and business people: revenue generation capability as it belongs to Uttar Pradesh – the most populous state in India, there is an increase in FDI, which is driving the economy of the state as well as the country, high substantiality as it has an extensive domestic circuit, and a few iconic players from this state who will help carry the cricket fever going ahead.

The factors that helped Ahmedabad reach the top of the list are advanced infrastructure, revenue generation capability, adequate substantiality, and tourism advantage. Ahmedabad has the world’s largest cricket stadium and generated a stellar response for Gujarat Lions in viewership. Ahmedabad has always had high economic growth, goodwill, large population, logistics, and technical feasibility.

Ahmedabad and Lucknow stand out in the research as the top two franchises to be part of the 15th edition of IPL (2022), with the potential to generate profits and sustain in the league. With the huge valuations and hunger to capture the market, the franchises will be geared up for the mega auction of players like never before: this will make the 2022 IPL season the most exciting season in the history of the Indian Premier League.

About the Authors:

Siva Brahma is pursuing a Master of Business Administration from IIM Udaipur. With 24 months of work experience in the FMCG sector, he is currently exploring marketing, analytics and strategy sectors. He has started two non-profit organisations that impacted thousands of lives. As part of the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIM Udaipur, he has aided several startups by collaborating with global companies and VC’s like AWS, Venture Catalysts. He loves watching and playing different sports like football, cricket and MMA.

Sri Chandan is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration from IIM Udaipur and is an Electronics and Communication Engineering Graduate from Manipal Institute of Technology. He has experience working as a sales & marketing intern in both IT services and e-commerce sectors in Indian & international markets. He is specialized in strategy and marketing domains. He is also a part of ConsultU, the consulting club of IIM Udaipur where he is responsible for the first consulting case book of IIM Udaipur and social media campaigns of the club. His other interests lie mostly in solving puzzles, exploring the art of storytelling and Cricket.