Indians skip top overseas T20 leagues


New Delhi: The astounding success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) may have resulted in various cricketing boards trying to replicate the model to launch their own twenty-twenty (T20) format leagues, but they are yet to create a meaningful business model. This is because, a key ingredient is missing—Indian players.

While there is no comparison with the IPL, viewership data of all the major leagues suggest that leagues including the Big Bash League (Australia), the newly launched SA T20 (South Africa), or Caribbean Premier League (West Indies) don’t even come close to the local leagues, like the ones that play retired Indian cricketers.

According to viewership data sourced from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) subscribers, the opening match of the last Legends League Cricket (LLC)—a T20 cricket tournament featuring recently retired cricketers—recorded a TV rating or TVR of 0.51—the percentage of the audience which saw the entire match.

In comparison, Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League and SAT20 opening matches recorded a TVR of 0.05 each. Caribbean Premier League was at 0.01, while Lanka Premier League could get 0.04 TVR for the opening match.

The current TV universe size is 800 million across 210 million addressable TV homes.

LLC was also the only cricket league that has been seriously watched by cricket fans outside of the IPL in India. It also recorded more viewership and time spent on a per-match average for the entire season, compared to the recently concluded ILT20, SAT20, Big Bash League and others.

“The Legends League did very well for us in the last edition,” Sanjog Gupta, head, sports at Disney Star, said. “The new edition starts in early March. It is a short event, but it means there is live content available on the network alongside the Women’s T20 World Cup going into the new IPL season. We built it as a competition being played between yesteryear icons where old rivalries could be visible. It was a dose of nostalgia with good cricket,” he added.

The LLC tournament follows two formats—one series has an international tournament and the other has a club format.

The upcoming season will have players representing countries and regions including Asia, India and the world. This will also include Pakistani players and so is being hosted outside India.

Its last season which was played in September 2022, was the four-franchise model which was played in India and had a club base with a franchise team. “How the players play for the teams and also clubs are the two formats we are trying to build,” said Raman Raheja, its CEO and co-owner. “We are in a space where cricketers who have recently retired,” he added.

Broadcaster Disney Star has also acquired rights to LLC Masters for its upcoming season.

“It is the same market that is being targeted – it is the Indian cricket fan base. Because of India cricketers, we have an advantage since India is the biggest cricket-watching nation in the world. While Indian cricketers are the most watched, we wonder if some of the other international leagues will be well watched as much since there is no India connect,” said Raheja.

When it comes to reach, which is defined as the average number of people who viewed a particular TV content for at least 1 minute, only LLC both Road Safety World Series and ILT20, scored much higher as both of these were also telecast on non-sports channels. The average reach of the latest seasons of LLC, Road Safety World Series and ILT20 was at 2.65 million, 4.31 million, and 3.76 million.

Road Safety World Series, where retired cricketers play, and UAE’s International League T20 (ILT20), which had some former Indian players, could manage better ratings at 0.47 and 0.31 TVRs, respectively.

In comparison, none of the other international leagues, including SAT20, Big Bash or Caribbean, could reach even a million viewers. BARC India did not respond to emails sent on the data under consideration.

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