As one series rolls into the next, cricket has become prime time TV entertainment, more in demand than soaps and reality shows.
What is more amazing is cricket’s capacity to come up with fantastic figures. Isn’t it incredible that the IPL pays Stephen Fleming Rs 1.7 crores for six weeks of cricket, three times the value of Sachin Tendulkar’s annual retainership contract of 60 lakhs.
Equally surprising is that people happily spend top money to get a part of the action. Spectators think nothing about paying the cost of a Delhi-Singapore return airfare to witness a Test match. The privilege of watching a one dayer in style can set you back much more. Still, demand stays strong and money keeps pouring in. Says a cricket official, “Earlier, we had to push sales. Now, expensive tickets get sold out quickly. People are dying to watch cricket.”
No surprise therefore that price of cricket properties keep going north. Nimbus paid a huge 612 crores annually for TV rights, and the figures currently tossed around for acquiring franchisee rights for teams in the IPL are mind boggling.
This because corporate houses are sparing no effort to hitch a ride on cricket Also, the pool of likely sponsors has widened from traditional cola companies with the arrival of newer players that include oil firms, TV channels and real estate developers. Even government agencies like Rajasthan Tourism have woken up to the enormous connect of cricket and who knows games could become launch pads for major movies.
The scramble is understandable considering cricket works in India. Recently, when someone placed a proposal before a business house to support non-cricket events they received a telling response: “This is not charity. Give us numbers, we need returns to justify costs.”
This, experience shows that cricket delivers. Companies, which pay crores to sponsor a series, have seen sales jump.
Besides such direct returns, cricket sponsorship is also about image building. Indian cricket is a blue chip property, it has credibility and reach and for anyone looking for a swift makeover.
With the 20-20 win, and the impending launch of the cash-rich IPL, Indian cricket is poised to set new business records. Its unique formula brings together sport, entertainment and the media, and as a resurgent economy grows rapidly, cricket will continue to go up and up.